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A Field(ing) day on booze

6 October, 2009

Family First Senator has hit out at the government as weak on alcohol, after figures were release that Australians spent $672 million at liquor outlets during August this year. The Senator has extolled the clear links between rising alcohol sales and rising alcohol-related health issues but I have a few points for the Senator’s consideration:

“There is no doubt we have a culture of binge drinking in this country and these latest figures prove its getting worse. Compared to the same time last year Australians spent almost 20 percent more on grog.”

Possibly so, but rather than showing the sales volume ($$) for one month, perhaps you could also show us units or capacity sold? Otherwise, what’s to say people aren’t just buying better quality grog? Surely a naive thought on my part…

“Over the last 10 years more than 3000 Australians have died every year of alcohol-induced conditions.”

So alcohol-related deaths have been increasing over the last 10 years?… but if you’re going to try and link alcohol consumption to deaths, you need to show some evidence that both are actually increasing!… at least so I’ve been taught.

“It costs taxpayers $16 billion a year mopping up the mess caused by the excessive consumption of alcohol.”

Does the Senator have the figures on how much alcohol-related taxes net the government each year? Alcohol consumers are taxpayers after all, and heavy drinkers are even bigger taxpayers. The key question question from a pivogian tax policy standpoint is, does the tax levied on alcohol pay for the externalities that it causes (eg reduced health)? I personally do not buy the argument that tax levied on alcohol reduces consumption.

“The report recommends Family First’s idea of tighter controls on alcohol advertising and health warning labels, something which was laughed off by the Rudd Government earlier this year.”

Because bigger warning labels or maybe some pictures of sclerosis of the liver on beer bottles will surely reduce consumption. Just like cigarettes, right? And tighter controls on alcohol advertising? Advertising for the sector is already the tightest controlled – you can’t show people consuming alcohol… but perhaps Family First would like an additional regulation that you can’t  make alcohol look ‘cool’ or desirable?

The well-intentioned Senator may do well to follow the government’s “Just Think” campaign, followed by a little bit (more) research and presentation of convincing statistics?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 7 October, 2009 3:58 pm

    Or rather than ‘just think’ how about ‘just fuck off’ Fielding 😉

    I don’t think increasing taxes on alcohol/tobacco reduces consumption. It would probably be as effective as prohibition on illicit drugs.

  2. johnsrikkyo permalink
    7 October, 2009 8:41 pm

    without sounding too academic, it has to do with demand elasticities, or in normal speak, how consumption habits respond to changes in price. Petrol, cigarettes, and alcohol tend to fare pretty well amid price hikes and, well, recession.

  3. 8 October, 2009 5:25 pm

    and (as certain share prices can attest) gambling 😉

  4. fairgo permalink
    10 October, 2009 12:42 pm

    at least alcohol and cigarette users are getting to know the content of what they consume and are contributing in taxes.

    These taxes ought to help towards costs of education and rehabilitating health.

    illegal drugs are being manufactured and distributed by criminals. young people die because of additives. no taxes are collected to help education and health damage.

    Fielding’s talk is a distraction from the main game-a democratic society needs legalise all drugs and cut the hypocrisy. Prohibition failed with alcohol but did produce some good criminals (remember Al Capone). The ‘war’ on drugs has failed in the same way.

  5. 11 October, 2009 8:47 am

    Actually cigarettes carry no consumer information any more apart from the fact that they will kill you or harm your baby and so on. Prior to changes to packaging they include tar and nicotine levels but no longer.

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