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The Health Case For Why We Should Maintain The Sales Tax on Alcohol

The Health Case For Why We Should Maintain The Sales Tax on Alcohol

April 27, 2010

The Campaign for Addiction Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery, a broad coalition of organizations working on substance abuse and related issues, is working hard to urge House members to vote no today on amendment 43, which would repeal last year's statute removing the the sales tax exemption on alcohol.

The vote is expected Tuesday morning or early afternoon. Call your Representative now!

[UPDATE: The House defeated the amendment on a 67-82 vote. We thank those legislators who supported public health and voted against the amendment.]

The campaign has released a detailed fact sheet explaining why this is critical for Commonwealth, and good policy:

Revenue raised from the alcohol tax produces over $100 million dollars in dedicated funding for substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery services. Repealing the alcohol sales tax is unfair. This will increase underage drinking and hurt families.

The state’s alcohol tax at retail sale is mainstream

  • 45 states have a sales tax on alcohol purchased in stores
  • 45 states have a sales tax and an excise tax on alcohol
  • New Hampshire’s excise tax on beer is 3 times that of Massachusetts
  • Even with the sales tax, alcohol is cheaper here than in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine and is one of the lowest in the northeast
  • In a 2009 poll, nearly 60% of adults in Massachusetts supported increasing alcohol taxes - if the funds are dedicated to substance abuse treatment and prevention programs.

Repealing the alcohol tax will increase underage drinking

  • A Department of Public Health study found that Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of teen drinking in the country, with 40% of those ages 12 to 20 using alcohol. Removing this tax would lead to more teen drinking.
  • Research finds using taxes to raise prices on alcohol is a among the most effective determent to underage drinking

Repealing the alcohol tax will hurt families

  • Massachusetts has some of the highest rates of alcohol and drug abuse in the county—the last thing we need is to take money away from prevention and treatment services in order to make alcohol cheaper. Repealing the alcohol tax would result in severe cuts in services to over 100,000 people each year who are struggling with addictions and substance abuse problems.
  • The alcohol tax saves Massachusetts money by preventing and treating substance abuse problems so people can turn their lives around before they end up in prison.
  • Repealing the alcohol sales tax would literally cost lives. Underage drinking kills 4 times as many young people as all drugs combined. Repealing this tax would put more alcohol in the hands of teenagers.