Ten-Cent Per Drink Fee To Mitigate Billions In Alcohol-Related Harm Dies In Assembly Committee

January 05, 2010
Contact: Rodney Foo @ (408) 282-8920
"This issue isn't over,'' Beall says

A proposal to raise $1.4 billion in revenue by increasing fees on beer, wine, and distilled spirits to the equivalent of a dime per drink was killed in the Assembly Health Committee today.

Revenue from Assembly Bill 1019, introduced in the previous session by Assemblymember Jim Beall, Jr., was aimed at mitigating some of the estimated $38 billion Californians annually pay for costs related to alcohol-related accidents, illnesses, injuries, and deaths.

Beall said he is looking at introducing a similar bill and he expects a similar battle with special interests who had worked to kill AB 1019.

“At a time when Californians are seeing drastic cuts to their schools and essential services, the alcohol industry continues to escape paying a single penny more to offset the billions in harm their products generate in medical, court, police, and prison costs,’’ Beall said.

“We cannot afford to subsidize the alcohol industry’s free ride. It’s time for Big Alcohol to sober up and help pay the tab. Drinking is a matter of personal responsibility. But I also believe the alcohol industry has a responsibility to pay its fair share for the damage their products create.’’

The alcohol industry is entering its 20th year without any state fee or tax increase despite inflation. But polls by the Public Policy Institute of California and the Field Poll show three-quarters of Californians support increasing levies on alcohol. Researchers also say increasing fees on alcohol will also curb under-age drinking which comprises an estimated 12 to 20 percent of the market.

Revenue from AB 1019 would have been used to pay for alcohol-related emergency room and trauma care, hospitalization, criminal justice and enforcement, treatment and recovery, and prevention through education and research.