Higher taxes on alcohol can make a night out more expensive but could save lives, according to a study released Thursday.
Each time the state of Alaska raised its alcoholic beverage tax, fewer deaths were caused by or related to alcohol, according to the study that examined 28 years of data.
When Alaska raised its alcohol tax in 1983, deaths caused by or related to alcohol dropped 29 percent. A 2002 tax increase was followed by an 11 percent reduction, according to the study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
“Increasing alcohol taxes saves lives; that’s the bottom line,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Alexander Wagenaar,a professor at the University of Florida’s Department of Epidemiology and Health Policy Research. “The tax increase caused some reduction in consumption of alcohol. The reduction saved lives.”
The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, tracked the number of deaths for every quarter in Alaska from 1976 to 2004.
Going by the logic here — that saving people from themselves (the study focused solely on health issues, not drunk driving deaths or domestic violence) is a worthwhile activity — they’re missing an opportunity with these occasional tax increases. Why not raise them 50%? Or 100%? Hell, do it every year, until so much of the price of booze is tax that it might as well be illegal! But suppose some people scrounge up enough money to still buy it? Maybe someone wins the lottery and celebrates with their friends over drinks? There’d still be lives at stake! Are we going to let some die for our convenience? Of course not! The only just thing, then, is to ban that demon liquid, that scourge of mind & body. Our lives depend on it, dammit! Besides, it worked wonderfully before…oh, wait, it didn’t. Never mind.