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Alcohol bans reduced deaths, study finds

A new study by the SA Medical Research Council and the University of Cape Town found that alcohol restrictions reduce excessive deaths.
Western Cape residents urged to consume alcohol responsibly

Government’s controversial alcohol bans are strongly associated with a large drop in unnatural deaths.

This according to a study by University of Cape Town (UCT) and Medical Research Council (MRC).

The study is titled Unnatural deaths, alcohol bans and curfews: Evidence from a quasi-natural experiment during Covid-19.

The researchers compared weekly unnatural deaths (murders, vehicle collisions, suicides and accidents) estimated by the MRC during alcohol restrictions and curfews, from end of December 2019 to late April 2021. The researchers assigned one of three categories to alcohol restrictions for each week: no restrictions, partial restrictions (when alcohol could only be sold Monday to Thursdays) and full bans. They then applied a standard statistical model known as a regression analysis and found that there was a strong association between alcohol restrictions and reductions in unnatural deaths, regardless of curfew lengths.

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“This effect increases with increasing duration of curfew, but even with fairly modest curfew hours (4 – 7 hours), full restriction on alcohol of curfew had the effect of reducing unnatural deaths by around 42 deaths per day, or 26%,”

“The complete restriction on the sale of alcohol resulted in a statistically significant reduction in unnatural deaths regardless of the length of curfew. To the contrary, periods where no or limited restrictions on alcohol were in force had no significant effect, or resulted in significantly increased unnatural deaths,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers said the results provide gripping evidence that the restriction on the sale of alcohol rather than curfew is associated with the reduction in unnatural deaths observed during the Covid-19 outbreak in South Africa.

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