Are Higher Alcohol Taxes The New Prohibition?

By: Melaina Gasbarrino

Gone are the days of prohibition and in are the days of raising alcohol taxes in the hopes of creating a more financially stable America. The thought of another prohibition like that of the 1920s one is certainly not something we want to go back to. To illustrate, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's developed "Prohibition" series on PBS where they tell of a tale long ago where alcohol was removed from America in hopes of improving the lives of Americans. The series premiers October 2nd, 3rd and 4th and will provide some insight into why 3 states (Georgia, Connecticut and Indiana) still hold onto prohibiting the sales of alcohol on Sundays. But, if you are keen on enjoying happy hour then beware, as you will see an increase in alcohol taxes throughout America. Don't worry though; it's all to benefit you and your community.

The news developed in Kim Severson's "States Putting Hopes in 'Bottoms Up' to Help the Bottom Line" where we found that 12 states have already raised alcohol taxes or changed alcohol laws to create an influx of revenue for the state. For example Maryland increased its alcohol sales tax from 6 to 9%, hoping to create $85 million dollars in tax revenue for the state. If that's not surprising, get this, back in 2009 Illinois increased alcohol taxes, which added $100 million to their capital fund. The money went towards developing roads, schools, and any other projects.

Now universities are jumping on the bandwagon of increased alcohol taxes, in hopes that their revenues will also increase. A prime example of this can be found at Louisiana State University.  The university is ensuring an increase in revenue by snagging 6-8% royalties on their newly developed Bandit Blonde, a beer named after a famous 1950s football defenseman. The beer will be showcased and sold at the university and throughout Louisiana. Not only is this beer developing more funding for the university itself but is also increasing the thought of localism in the state.

On the other hand of this happy revelation there are those who are thinking more of the long-term effects on each state. David Jernigan, director of the Center of Alcohol Marketing and Youth at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, believes lawmakers aren't focusing on "long-term police costs, emergency room costs and work-force readiness costs in terms of the Monday morning effect." Jernigan believes the rise in alcohol taxes will lead to less people drinking and he doesn't see a problem with that. He knows the real motivation for the increase is revenue for the state, but what the legislators aren't taking into consideration is the health of their community.

So get out there and go grab a pint or two of beer because in the grand scheme of things a pint just may help develop your community's roads...or will it?

Are you for or against an increase in alcohol taxes?

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Photo: bittermelon