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Watchdog finds 20 states charge for alcohol harm

Posted: October 28, 2009 5:07 p.m.
Updated: October 28, 2009 6:11 p.m.
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- According to a new online resource made available today by Marin Institute, there is a growing number of states collecting funds from the sale of alcoholic beverages and earmarking the dollars for programs that mitigate alcohol related harm.

The alcohol industry watchdog released the information at to show examples of states wrestling with the immense financial burden caused by alcohol use.

"Twenty states are already wisely collecting alcohol taxes or price markups on alcoholic beverages and dedicating them for alcohol-related programs," said Michele Simon, research and policy director at Marin Institute. "We urge political and public support for tax increases in the other 30 states to fund programs that mitigate the financial harm caused by alcohol," Simon added.

Twenty states dedicate funds collected through taxes or price mark-ups on alcoholic beverages and direct them in the following ways: (1) Education or prevention of problems associated with alcohol use; (2) Enforcement or administration of the state's alcohol control laws; and (3) Treatment or rehabilitation for people with alcohol or other drug problems.

Nationally, alcohol-related harm costs more than $200 billion annually in trauma care, hospitalization, treatment, prevention, lost productivity, and criminal justice costs. At least 85,000 people die in the U.S. every year from alcohol-related factors making alcohol the third leading cause of preventable death, behind smoking and poor diet.

"We applaud those states that are holding Big Alcohol accountable for their costs to government, stated Bruce Lee Livingston, executive director of Marin Institute. "Bud Light and Coors Light are not so light on state government costs - it's time these global corporations pay the tab for the state health and safety programs that mitigate their harm," added Livingston.

In California, a state that suffers more than $38 billion in alcohol-related economic harm annually, there are alcohol fee proposals at both the state and county levels. AB 1019, authored by Assembly Member Jim Beall (D-San Jose), would establish the Alcohol-Related Services Program within the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs. A $1.44 billion annual alcohol mitigation fee would fund the program and mark the first time the industry has paid its fair share of California's annual alcohol-related harm.

The city and county of San Francisco is currently conducting a nexus study to quantify its alcohol-related harm in preparation for imposing a local alcohol mitigation fee in 2010. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Monday supporting AB 1019 and asking for a state "charge for harm" fee program.



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