The respected American Association of Wine Economists recently published a very interesting Working Paper on the links, or otherwise, between binge drinking, alcohol prices and alcohol taxes.
I am not for one second trying to take away from the issue of binge drinking itself. We have a huge problem with it here in Ireland and it continues to cause significant problems both socially and economically. It is, in my opinion, greatly exacerbated by the below cost selling of alcohol and the way that alcohol is often marketed and promoted.
The irony is that the Government that permits the sale of alcohol in this way is also the same Government that tells us they are doing our national Health a favour by increasing the taxes on alcohol (and wine in particular) to protect us from harming ourselves. It's a ridiculous smokescreen.
The full report is both very detailed and fascinating. For those who just want a brief overview, I quote the following Summary:
"A large body of evidence now indicates that binge drinkers are not highly-responsive to increased prices or taxes, and may not respond at all. Non-responsiveness holds generally for younger and older drinkers and for male and female binge drinkers alike. Increased alcohol prices or taxes are unlikely to be effective as a means to reduce binge drinking, regardless of gender or age group."
The full Working Paper is here.
American Association of Wine Economists: www.wine-economics.org