186248 Reducing the burden of alcohol problems in California through tax increases

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 4:30 PM

Michele Simon, JD, MPH , Research and Policy, Marin Institute, San Rafael, CA
Research demonstrates that taxes are one of the most effective strategies for reducing underage drinking and alcohol-related harm. Yet, taxes continue to fall each year (both federal and state) in relation to inflation, thanks to powerful industry lobbying.

A compelling argument for increasing taxes is the devastating toll that alcohol wreaks, including illness, injury, and crime. To help make the case for an alcohol tax raise in California, where taxes have remained stagnant for the past 16 years, Marin Institute undertook the task of estimating the costs of alcohol problems in our state.

As the largest state in the nation, the results were stunning. Alcohol problems costs, (public and private combined) total more than $30 billion. Roughly one-third of these costs represent lost productivity from shortened lives, non-fatal illness and injury, and reduced earning potential among those suffering from alcohol dependence.

Marin Institute then estimated how much these costs would be reduced with different policy proposals: 1) a tax increase of 25 cents across-the-board increase; 2) equalizing beer, wine and distilled spirits tax rates; and 3) simply indexing all taxes to inflation.

This presentation will describe our analysis in California and offer advocates the tools and resources they need to conduct similar studies in their states.

Learning Objectives:
1. Understand the devastating toll of alcohol problems 2. Identify the connection between increased taxes and reduced alcohol consumption 3. Assess own state’s readiness to apply economic estimates in making tax proposals

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: More than 10 years experience presenting.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.