Researcher Backs Calls For Higher Alcohol Taxation

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Higher Alcohol Taxation

Martin Plant is backing a call from a group of senior politicians for higher alcohol taxation.

In a letter in today's Guardian Newspaper, Professor Plant has written as follows:

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"Dear Editor,

The Conservative Party's Social Justice Policy Group has recommended that taxation should be used to curb binge drinking. This Group is to be congratulated for raising an 'inconvenient truth.' The UK is one very few Western countries where alcohol consumption, as well related mortality and public nuisance, have been rising steadily. A series of authoritative reports from Government advisors, medical and scientific authorities have drawn attention to the fact that controlling the availability of alcohol is essential in order to reduce heavy drinking and its related harm. Moreover, the UK is a signatory to the World Health Organization's European Charter.

This commits governments to "promote health by controlling the availability, for example, for young people, and influencing the price of alcohol alcoholic beverages, for instance by taxation." Few credible scientists contest the fact that price control is vital if the UK's appalling level of alcohol-related harm is to be reduced. It is not enough to use empty rhetoric or to rely or low impact policy options. The latter include alcohol education, exhortation, media campaigns or unjustified advice (such as asking pregnant women not to drink at all).

Public health and safety should not be a party political issue, especially if there is a good scientific basis for determining what constitutes effective policy. It is to be hoped that politicians of all political persuasions will, at last, support an alcohol policy that really does reduce per capita consumption and all of its attendant damage."

Martin Plant adds: "The key issue it that our level of alcohol-related deaths is closely linked to the UK's overall level of alcohol consumption. The latter reflects the affordability of alcoholic drinks (which has been falling). Many people do not realise this. Alcohol - related deaths and drink driving are rising and many people are simply sick of the public disorder that makes out town and city centres so nasty at night. These problems can be reduced. Science tells us what to do. The big question is whether politicians really want to protect our health and safety."

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