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Taxing alcohol helps prevent alcohol related deaths

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: alcohol, tax, health news

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(NaturalNews) A recent study out of the University of Florida has found that taxing alcohol helps to prevent deaths related to excessive alcohol consumption. The study is part of an analysis considering whether or not to increase alcohol taxes in the State of Florida.

If alcohol taxes in Florida are adjusted to reflect inflationary changes, up to 800 deaths -- or more -- a year could be prevented, say researchers.

"Previous studies conducted in the United States and other countries have clearly shown that increasing alcohol taxes is associated with reduced overall consumption of alcohol as well as reduced heavy drinking. This new study shows that increasing taxes on alcohol also influences the death rate from liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, gastric diseases, some cancers, and cardiovascular diseases caused by heavy alcohol use," explained Mildred M. Maldonado-Molina, Ph.D., one of the study authors.

The study piggy-backs on a previous one conducted in Alaska that produced similar results. But because alcohol-related deaths in Alaska are already much higher than in most of the other 49 states due to its different "physical, demographic, and social characteristics", researchers wanted to verify whether or not alcohol-related taxes have the same affect in other states as well.

In Florida, the last time alcohol taxes were updated was back in 1983, but according to the report, the current real tax in light of inflation represents about a quarter of what it was back in the 1960s.

"Simply returning the real tax rates to their levels in the 1960s would save the lives of some 1,500 Floridians per year from alcohol-related disease," explained Alexander C. Wagenaar, Ph.D., from the Department of Epidemiology and Health Policy Research at the University of Florida's College of Medicine.

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