Nine States Considering Alcohol Tax Increases

 CFH-Nickel web sm
So far, 2013 is shaping up to be a good year for state proposals to increase alcohol taxes. Eight states have introduced bills this year that would raise the tax rate on some or all alcoholic beverages in their state. Several of the proposed bills, including ones introduced in New York, New Hampshire, and Minnesota, specifically charge for harm by allocating alcohol tax revenues to mitigate the rising costs of alcohol-related harm. Other proposals include Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia. Even policymakers in Wyoming, the state with the lowest beer tax rate (passed at its current rate in 1935), have indicated an interest in increasing the tax rate in order to bring in more revenue. Increasing alcohol taxes is one of the most effective public policies available to reduce alcohol-related harm, and is consistently associated with decreases in motor vehicle crashes and fatalities, all-cause mortality, violence, and alcoholism. To read more about specific alcohol tax bills introduced in each state, see our Legislative Summary page.


Tribal Members Demonstrate Against Alcohol-Related Harm

2-28-13 PineRidge1 1

More than 100 Oglala Lakota Sioux tribal members and their allies rallied last week in response to the alcohol-related harms and illegal activity, caused by alcohol sold to tribal members in the border town of Whiteclay, Nebraska. The unincorporated hamlet, which is within walking distance of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, has 14 residents and four liquor stores which sell nearly 5 million cans of beer each year. The liquor outlets engage in illegal alcohol activity, including sales of alcohol to minors, sales of alcohol to intoxicated people, accepting food stamps as payment for beer, and trading alcohol for sex. The lack of law enforcement has led to a public health crisis: 25% of youth from the Pine Ridge Reservation suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and 2/3 of the adults suffer from alcoholism. Click here to read more.

Minnesota Lawmakers Consider Charging for Harm


Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives are considering a bill that would raise taxes on alcohol, and increase funding to mitigate costs related to countering alcohol harm. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Karen Clark (DFL - Minneapolis) and Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL - Rochester), would raise the state tax rate by 3.5 cents a glass on beer, 4 cents a glass on wine, and 10 cents a glass on spirits. Money generated by the tax would go into an "Alcohol Health and Judicial Impact Fund," with half the money dedicated to judicial and public safety costs, and the other half to chemical dependency treatment. Raising taxes on alcohol is one of the most effective ways to reduce the amount of alcohol-related harm in communities. It is also helps the economy by providing revenue for government programs that are necessary to mitigate alcohol-related harm. Read more about Alcohol Justice's Charge for Harm campaign here.


New Zealand Study Finds Alcohol Ads on Social Media 'Hard to Regulate'

facebookbeer newA recent New Zealand study found that social media extended young people's drinking habits. According to researcher Antonia Lyons, "Facebook was embedded in these people's drinking cultures. They used Facebook to gain information about drinking, places, people, products to organise when they go out, to share photos about drinking ... to interact while engaging in a drinking session. They use it to connect with alcohol brands and products and to receive alcohol promotions." The report found that alcohol advertising is so seamlessly blended into social media and smartphone technology that government will struggle to regulate it. According to the authors, the viral and peer-to-peer nature of such promotion makes New Zealand's codes about displaying excessive consumption of alcohol, or targeting minors in alcohol advertising, particularly difficult to enforce. To read the Alcohol Justice report on alcohol advertising and Facebook, click here.