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Alcohol Taxes as a Public Health Revenue Measure

WHEREAS, alcohol is the number one drug among young people, and is responsible for 4300 deaths per year of persons under 21; and

WHEREAS, excessive drinking is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, a causal agent in liver cirrhosis, cancers of the head, neck, digestive tract and female breast, and is involved in one third of violent crimes and two in three cases of intimate partner violence; and

WHEREAS, African-Americans are less likely to drink and binge drink than the general population, but if they do drink excessively, they are more likely to suffer in terms of personal relationships, employment, financial and legal problems, as well as higher rates of alcohol-induced heart disease and hypertension; and

WHEREAS, numerous studies have found that increasing alcohol taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce excessive drinking and prevent alcohol-related problems; and

WHEREAS, excessive drinking cost an estimated $249 billion in the U.S. in 2010, or $2.05 per drink, while federal alcohol taxes are approximately 8.5 cents per drink and state alcohol taxes are an average of 5 cents per drink; and

WHEREAS, all federal and most state alcohol taxes lose value every year because they are based on the volume of the beverage and therefore do not rise with inflation; and

WHEREAS, increasing alcohol taxes has been shown to reduce underage drinking, heavy drinking, alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, sexually-transmitted diseases, and numerous other negative consequences of alcohol use; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) encourages states and the federal government to increase taxes on alcohol in order to decrease underage drinking, reduce and prevent a wide range of negative consequences of alcohol use, and raise revenues that can be used to support health care and other measures to improve and safeguard the health of the population; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will work with public health advocates and elected officials to educate political leaders and the general public about the public health benefits of reducing the consumption of alcohol by increasing taxes on the purchase of alcohol in order to safeguard our communities.