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A Free Lunch
Citation Information: Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Volume 1, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1941-2851, DOI: 10.2202/1941-2851.1001, October 2008
- Published Online:
Federal and state excise taxes on alcoholic beverages have declined sharply in real value over the last 50 years. The result is cheaper alcohol, more alcohol abuse, and more alcohol-related problems of all sorts than would otherwise have occurred. Frequently voiced concerns that such taxes are regressive, or that they penalize the majority who drink moderately and safely, are off base. An increase in the federal alcohol taxes could provide almost everyone but the heaviest drinkers with a net financial gain even if there were no behavioral effects; the evidence that there are behavioral effects that improve health and safety is an important bonus. In a sense, alcohol taxes are the proverbial free lunch.