Friday, September 24, 2010

Alcohol Tax Increase

Its no secret alcoholl abuse has been a lingering problem in the United States. In many instances, it leads to numerous injuries, crimes, diseases and car crashes. This is why it’s the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. How does the U.S go about solving this issue? For years various laws have been enacted and altered in order to reduce this unhealthy behavior. CNN writer Carina Storrs suggests increasing the alcohol prices is the way to go. “If state alcohol taxes were doubled, the tax on a six-pack or bottle of wine would increase by anywhere from a few pennies to 50 cents,” says Storrs. The effect of tax increase wouldn’t have an immediate impact on alcohol abuse, but over time the budget increase would reduce a college students fund for a party or a social drinkers bar tab. Storrs cites a study published by the American Journal of Public health. This study compiled data and analysis from 50 studies that explored the correlation between drinking related issues and increased alcohol abuse.

In 1983 Alaska enacted an alcohol tax increase. The price for a bottle of beer incrop in deaths. Some may be skeptical believing that a two-cent price change can have such a significant impact on public health, but after taking into account all the negative attributes associated with
alcohol abuse, it’s reality. Alcohol abusers are more likely to experience strokes, depression, various forms of cancer and liver and heart diseases than non-alcohol abusers. Impaired judgment such as drunk driving and risky sexual behavior also needs to be accounted for.

A variety of issues stand in the way of an alcohol tax increase. For starters, an increase would be widely unpopular among drinkers regardless if it’s in their best interest. Secondly, the beverage and restaurant industries might night be able to withstand a tax increase given the significance of alcohol to business.

If a tax increase does ensue, it won’t be to ensure the good health of Americans, but to have more money at the government’s disposal. The number of alcohol related deaths per year has decreased by 23 percent. According to associate professor and alcohol policy expert David Jernigan, a Maryland 10 cent per drink tax increase will decrease alcohol consumption by 5 percent, save $214 million in healthcare costs and produce $214 million in revenues. Although he drew his data from Maryland, Jernigan claims every other state will have the same result.

If an alcohol tax increase is to occur, than accommodation must be provided for the beverage and alcohol industries. With alcohol being a vital component of these industries, combined with the nation being in a recession, a increase will inevitably hurt their generated revenue.

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