Alcohol: Canada Alcohol and Tax

Canada Alcohol Tax Update…

Dear Editor, A Fair Tax…
I can’t believe that Alberta is lowering taxes on alcohol.? Don’t they know that for every 10% the tax is lowered that 7% more children will start drinking and that 90% of all drinkers began as children?? And, unlike smoking, drinking kills a lot of children while they ARE still arguably children… instead of waiting until they’re 70 or 80 years old.
I propose that alcohol be taxed at the same rate as tobacco, just to save the children you understand.? Alberta is now taxing loose tobacco at 30 cents per gram.? A one-liter bottle of vodka contains roughly 400 grams of alcohol, so a fair tax would be $120/bottle.?? Fewer children would drink, fewer children would die.? How could anyone except hard core alkies and Big Alcohol itself be against such an equitable “user fee” (See? You don’t even have to call it a “tax”!)

Michael J. McFadden
Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”
Banning alcohol ads won’t cure alcoholism
The campaign to restrict the advertising of booze in order to save the public could end up driving us to drink.

21 July 2009

Despite a sceptical literature on the relationship between alcohol advertising and drinking initiation and consumption, there remain powerful public health campaigns to restrict or eliminate alcohol ads. Exhibit A: the British charity Alcohol Concern’s declaration last week that alcohol should not be advertised on television before the 9pm watershed. According to Alcohol Concern’s spokesman, ‘Given the evidence with regard to… the influence of alcohol advertising on young people, it is appropriate that the current rules should be tightened’.

Alcohol Concern’s pronouncement is the progeny of two books published a half century ago, journalist Vance Packard’s million-selling The Hidden Persuaders and French demographer Sully Ledermann’s Alcohol, Alcoholism, Alcoholisation. These works shaped today’s public health establishment consensus about the effects of alcohol advertising.

Packard asserted that advertising exerts a strong manipulative influence on consumption. Ledermann claimed that there is a fixed relationship between total alcohol consumption and the proportion of heavy drinkers; the only difference between heavy drinkers and the rest of the population being the amount of alcohol consumed. Hence, there is a causal relationship between consumption and misuse.

Between them, Packard and Ledermann provided the basis for the public health establishment’s demand that alcohol advertising be either tightly regulated or completely banned. According to the public health view, increases in average alcohol consumption increase the number of problem drinkers and thus the amount of alcohol-related harm, including healthcare costs. Given that alcohol advertising both initiates new consumers and increases total consumption, it should be restricted or banned.

At the very least, this view asserts, exposure to advertising causes individuals to drink who might not otherwise drink and causes people to consume more alcohol than they otherwise would. Restricting or eliminating advertising is justifiable since it would reduce total consumption and with it aggregate alcohol harm.

Are the public health community’s claims about alcohol advertising effects true, and are its demands for restrictions or complete bans on alcohol advertising, based as they are to a large degree on Packard and Ledermann, justified?

In order to test these claims, we examined the public health model of advertising’s effects, experimental studies, studies of alcohol advertising exposure and recall, econometric studies of alcohol advertising, drinking initiation and consumption, and studies of alcohol advertising restrictions and bans.

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