5-18-11: The Alcohol Tax and Public Health
Tomorrow Gov. O’Malley is expected to sign the first increase in alcohol taxes in Maryland in 39 years: On July 1, the sales tax on alcohol will rise from 6 percent to 9 percent.
The tax was conceived by advocates for health care, mental health, addiction and disabilities services as a “dime a drink.” As passed, it works out to be about half that. In the first year, much of the revenue will go for schools, especially in Baltimore and Prince George’s counties.
But those same advocates say what it gets spent for is less important than the impact of the tax itself on public health. We’ve asked David Jernigan of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to lay out how he expects it to work. He’s associate professor in the department of health, behavior and society.
Note: Our original headline read “Dime a Drink.” It’s been changed to reflect that the tax is based on a percent of the price, not volume (i.e., per drink or per bottle).