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Can Sin Taxes Curb Binge Drinking?

curb binge drinkingMany places have sin taxes for alcohol, tobacco, and other vices, but do these really curb the use of the products targeted or are these taxes just a way to boost the coffers of governments around the world? Recent research by researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health discovered that sin taxes on alcohol which increased the cost of these products did have an effect on binge drinking, it lowered the rate of this destructive activity. The study produced by the researchers can be found in the Addiction journal. What the researchers saw was that for every 1% boost in sin tax there was 1.4% less binge drinking in a community. In the past some have speculated that these taxes are not effective and they are just a money grab by local governments.

When discussing the research involving binge drinking and sin taxes BUSPH assistant professor of community health sciences Ziming Xuan, Ph.D., the lead author of the study, stated “This is really significant for public health.” The researchers who performed the study explained “This study emphasizes the importance of assessing multiple co-existing tax types — and possibly tax structure — for characterizing the relationship between tax and related outcomes, evaluating the effects of tax policy interventions, and for planning tax policy interventions.” Binge drinking is a big problem in most communities, and many treatment programs have a waiting list or are overcrowded and ineffective. If sin taxes do prevent binge drinking does that mean the these taxes should be raised even higher? At what point should government interference stop? What do you think?

 

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