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Maryland Alcohol Sales Tax and Sexually Transmitted Infections

March 2016

Stephanie A.S. Staras, Melvin D. Livingston, Alexander C. Wagenaar


The article examines the effects of a 3 percentage point increase in the alcohol sales tax in Maryland on the rate of Gonorrhea infections. Using a set of 3 different control groups the infection rates are examined on a monthly basis both before the sales tax increase and after. It was ultimately concluded that the tax increase accounted for a roughly 24 percent deduction in gonorrhea cases. The study also estimated that there is not a significant reduction of any specific race compared to another in percentage terms.

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Policy Implications

This article can be used in the process of considering the correct rate to set the alcohol sales tax in the state. Although specific research was not conducted, evidence suggested that a higher alcohol tax may be associated with a reduction in many STIs, instead of just gonorrhea. Further, the potential reduction in STI contraction may lead to potential decrease in government health expenditures.

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