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Associations between alcohol taxes and varied health outcomes among women of reproductive age and infants.

OBJECTIVE: No studies have examined whether alcohol taxes may be relevant for reducing harms related to pregnant people's drinking.

METHOD: We examined how beverage-specific ad valorem, volume-based, and sales taxes are associated with outcomes across three data sets. Drinking outcomes came from women of reproductive age in the 1990-2020 US National Alcohol Surveys (N = 11 659 women $\le$ 44 years); treatment admissions data came from the 1992-2019 Treatment Episode Data Set: Admissions (N = 1331 state-years; 582 436 pregnant women admitted to treatment); and infant and maternal outcomes came from the 2005-19 Merative Marketscan® database (1 432 979 birthing person-infant dyads). Adjusted analyses for all data sets included year fixed effects, state-year unemployment and poverty, and accounted for clustering by state.

RESULTS: Models yield no robust significant associations between taxes and drinking. Increased spirits ad valorem taxes were robustly associated with lower rates of treatment admissions [adjusted IRR = 0.95, 95% CI: 0.91, 0.99]. Increased wine and spirits volume-based taxes were both robustly associated with lower odds of infant morbidities [wine aOR = 0.98, 95% CI: 0.96, 0.99; spirits aOR = 0.99, 95% CI: 0.98, 1.00] and lower odds of severe maternal morbidities [wine aOR = 0.91, 95% CI: 0.86, 0.97; spirits aOR = 0.95, 95% CI: 0.92, 0.97]. Having an off-premise spirits sales tax was also robustly related to lower odds of severe maternal morbidities [aOR = 0.78, 95% CI: 0.64, 0.96].

CONCLUSIONS: Results show protective associations between increased wine and spirits volume-based and sales taxes with infant and maternal morbidities. Policies that index tax rates to inflation might yield more public health benefits, including for pregnant people and infants.

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