Not So Sweet

The Age, March 8, 2009:

Alcopops tax a success: research

Alcopops sales dropped by 29 per cent following the introduction of the federal government’s tax hike on ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages in April, new figures reveal.

The data, released by the Australian Drug Foundation, shows the number of alcopops sold in the last 10 months dropped by the equivalent of 310 million standard drinks.

“This independent data is irrefutable and unbiased, and demonstrates a big loss in spirits sales for the liquor industry,” drug foundation policy spokesman Geoff Munro said in a statement.

The Age, September 25, 2010:

Alcopop tax fails to curb teenage drinkers

THE contentious tax on alcopops has failed to influence teenage drinkers and done nothing to curb binge drinking, according to the first survey of underage alcohol use since the federal government introduced the excise hike.

A Victorian government three-yearly survey of high school students shows the tax faltered on two fronts: pre-mixed sugary alcoholic drinks have become even more popular among the young, and the tax’s main targets, teenage girls, increased their risky drinking, with one public health expert describing the female drinking trend as ”an absolute disaster”.

So raising the price of booze hasn’t slowed young people drinking … hey, I got an idea! Let’s raise the price of booze!

YOUNG binge drinkers have simply switched to cheaper booze to beat the Federal Government’s controversial “alcopop” tax.

New research shows 15 to 29-year-olds have dodged the 70 per cent tax on popular pre-mixed drinks by changing their drink of choice.

The University of Queensland study found no significant reduction in binge drinking-related hospital admissions since the tax was introduced in 2008.

It has prompted fresh calls for a minimum price on alcohol.

The story goes on predictably from there: young people drink to get drunk, o tempora, o mores. Given that booze in Australia is already highly overtaxed — a bottle of gin is about twice in Sydney what it is in New York due mostly to various excises, and my uncle who lives outside Washington, DC, reports that his local Costco sells Grange for less than your average bottle shop here sells it for. Hiking prices will likely do little but further pick the pockets of the harried middle-aged and middle-class while driving youth to cheaper, more portable, and less- regulated substances to aid their thrill-seeking. Say what you will about drink, at least it hasn’t been made by some smelly guy in a garage … oh, wait.

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