by Ali Paulson, Daily Vidette Staff Writer,
Researchers argue making alcohol more expensive is a solution to reducing disease, crime, car crashes and preventable deaths, according to an article on CNN.
The CNN article said doubling the current state tax on alcohol could reduce alcohol-related deaths by up to 35 percent. The tax could also reduce deadly car crashes by 11 percent and sexually transmitted disease rates by 6 percent.
The increase would affect beer and wine by about 50 cents per purchase and add as much as a few dollars to the price of a bottle of liquor, according to the article.
According to a study cited in the article, heavy drinkers, college students and social drinkers all respond to price drops when it comes to buying alcohol. The article argued all of these groups might reduce drinking due to the tax on alcohol.
Rajeev Goel, economics professor, agreed that the ill-effects of alcohol use are likely to go down with the higher tax.
“Higher alcohol prices might induce some heavy drinkers to drink in moderation, while others might switch to other [relatively cheaper] substitutes such as beer and wine,” Goel said.
The article said the benefits will be long-term and changes won’t be seen immediately. However, the tax may pose negative effects on business owners.
Rashik Rakholia, owner of University Liquors, argued the alcohol tax is a bad idea.
“[The tax] has no benefit; they are taking money, that’s it,” Rakholia said.
Rakholia explained the alcohol tax from September 2009 has impacted business at University Liquors in the last year. He said raising the tax is bad for business and bad for people in a suffering economy.
Goel believes the businesses that offer more products than just alcohol will suffer much less than those just selling alcohol.
He believes the alcohol tax may reduce college drinking because of their low incomes.
He said due to college students’ budget, they think twice about buying alcohol if and when the tax rises.
The benefits of the alcohol tax are hopeful and vague, Goel explained.
“Society might benefit from lower drunk driving accidents and also the revenues rose by the government from higher taxes used constructively to provide social services,” Goel explained.
“Even a slight decrease in drinking could have a large impact on health,” the CNN article said.
“If millions of people living in an area consumed half a drink less per week, the difference could lead to big drops in overall injury and death rates,” Alexander Wagenaar, the lead researcher and professor epidemiology and health outcomes at the University of Florida, in Gainesville said, said in the CNN article.
The article suggested the taxes will provide a much needed source of revenue for state and local governments.
In addition, the alcohol tax will, in time, decrease the cost of health care.
Goel said the decrease in health care cost is hard to predict. “Perhaps of the long term related health care costs will go down with fewer health complications from drinking,” Goel said.