By Ian Neubauer
An independent report commissioned by the Howard Government in 2006 to analyse international data on alcohol consumption found taxation is an effective measure to reduce the consumption of alcohol.
The findings present much-needed support for the Rudd Government’s hotly contested RTD tax hike, which was announced without industry consultation or warning on April 27 amid growing concern over the social and economic costs of alcohol abuse among young persons.
"There would appear to be strong justification for the April 2008 increase in the Australian tax on [RTDs]," Macquarie University adjunct professor, David Collins, who co-authored the report, told AAP.
"All the evidence is the demand for alcohol is quite responsive to changes in prices and you can change the price via taxation."
Collins added that categories like spirits that have become more popular since the tax hike was introduced as consumers switch to less costly forms of alcohol should also be taxed at a higher rate.
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the report justified the April tax.
But the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia (DSICA) discounted the report, saying all other credible research and anlaysis confirmed the tax hike was causing more unintended social and health problems than it hoped to solve.
“The latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey, conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, found that increasing tax was not strongly supported as a means to overcome problem drinking,” said DSICA spokesperson, Stephen Riden. “Improved labeling, policing and education were considered more appropriate to address this issue.”
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