Like many, I have been watching the debate about the so-called alcopop tax over the past couple of months. It has been fascinating to watch the alcohol industry pump out the most amazing amount of propaganda to try to discredit the initiative and portray the Prime Minister and his team as a bunch of wowsers who are trying to stop the average Australian from enjoying a drink!
You can play with statistics and usually get the results you want if you do it for long enough! The alcohol industry has said that the tax has resulted in younger people switching to spirits and in retaliation, the government reported that RTD sales have slipped, resulting in an actual reduction in spirit consumption overall.
When it really comes down to it, it is important to remember that the increase in taxation was not designed to be a silver bullet -” nowhere has it been suggested that this would solve all our problems.
This was to be one part of an overall strategy. To be quite honest this increase in taxation was never going to affect those young people who were drinking at high-risk levels because they weren’t interested in drinking pre-mixed spirits anyway! This group already regarded these drinks as expensive and were already drinking spirits such as vodka and rum which gave them more bang for their buck.
This taxation does affect the very young -” those teenagers who may just be starting to drink and still haven’t acquired a taste for alcohol. This group is affected by the price of the product and is less likely to now buy the drink or have it bought for them.
There is now a strong push for volumetric taxation of alcohol to be introduced, i.e. the more alcohol content, the higher the taxation. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next because most parts of the alcohol industry don’t want to see this implemented, particularly the wine industry.
It has been reported that a four-litre cask of wine which now attracts just $1.89 in tax would rise to $12.12 if such taxation was introduced. This sort of price change would not be welcomed by many Australians and although I totally support the move, it would be a brave government who tried to push it through.
Remember: If you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and no matter how many times you have used a substance -” never be blase!