Now you might think that’s a crazy headline, but as Frank Bruni points out in the New York Times, “Congress last revised excise taxes on distilled spirits in 1991, [and] the real value of those taxes has declined more than 35 percent”! (Disinfonauts outside the US, let us know how alcohol is taxed in your country)
… excise taxes on alcohol have gone down over the last few decades, when adjusted for inflation and measured in terms of the percentage they represent of the wholesale and retail price of a bottle or a can. The federal government and many states long ago set those levies in terms of a certain dollar amount per gallon — and then didn’t tweak them much as the cost of living went up.
Because Congress last revised excise taxes on distilled spirits in 1991, the real value of those taxes has declined more than 35 percent, said Alexander Wagenaar, a professor at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine who specializes in alcohol research.
In several states, the situation is even more absurd. According to a national roundup done by Alcohol Justice, an industry watchdog group, Wyoming hasn’t raised the excise tax on beer, which is two cents per gallon, since 1935.
Although some states have increased the sales taxes on alcohol over the last few years, they’ve typically done so in search of badly needed revenue and in the hope that it won’t dampen consumption — not as a public health measure aimed at reducing drinking.
“It’s amazing,” Wagenaar said. “There are scientists and epidemiologists counting all the bodies from alcohol-related problems, but only a few of them are looking at tax rates.”
And while some states restrict the marketing and promotion of alcohol, the overall advertising climate remains permissive enough that between 2001 and 2009, the average number of commercials for alcohol seen yearly by a teenager who regularly watched television rose to 366 from 217, according to a study for the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Johns Hopkins…
[continues in the New York Times]