Sin tax. Luxury tax. Call it what you will, but I for one am in favor of raising the alcohol tax in Juneau. It's a fact - alcohol imposes great costs on society. It kills over 100,000 people every year. A November 2001 study by the McDowell group estimated that alcohol abuse cost Alaska $453 million dollars in 1999. And according to the Alcohol Policies Project conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the heaviest-drinking 10 percent of beer drinkers consume 43 percent of reported beer consumption.
So why not have the people drinking alcohol start taking more responsibility for its impact? The cost of alcohol - even with a tax increase - still lags behind the inflation rate in the U.S. and there are benefits for raising the tax. It deters underage drinking. The money generated from the proposed tax could potentially pay for awareness and prevention efforts. Considering this is one of the county's heaviest-drinking regions - Southeast Alaskans on average consume over a gallon more of pure alcohol every year than the rest of the U.S. - awareness and prevention seem like a good idea to me.