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A 1998 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation survey found that eight in ten Americans support a tax increase on alcohol to fund youth prevention and treatment efforts. 70 Increasing alcohol excise taxes can provide a substantial source of new revenue; several states, including New Mexico and Montana, use a portion of alcohol excise taxes to support alcohol treatment.
The Federal government also collects alcohol excise taxes: 5? per 12 ounce can of beer, $2.14 for a 750 ml. bottle of distilled spirits and an average of 42? for a 750 ml. bottle of wine. 71 However, alcohol excise tax revenues pale in comparison to the costs alcohol imposes on society; in 1995, alcohol costs were estimated at nearly $167 billion 72 while combined Federal, state and local alcohol tax revenues reached just $17 billion. 73 In 1998, alcohol excise taxes collected by the Federal government totaled $7.5 billion. This revenue, which goes into the general treasury fund along with tobacco excise tax revenue, is not earmarked for alcohol prevention and treatment programs.
State alcohol excise tax rates depend to some degree on the influence of the alcohol industry. For example, the average state excise tax on beer is 19? per gallon, while the tax rates in Missouri (home to Anheuser-Busch) and Wisconsin (home to Miller Brewing) are only 6? per gallon. 74 Although taxes on tobacco products have been rising, most states have failed to take advantage of the power of alcohol tax increases to both prevent alcohol abuse and generate revenue. In 1998, state tobacco excise tax revenues totaled $7.7 billion, compared to $3.8 billion in alcohol excise taxes. 75
In some cities, outlets licensed to sell alcohol for off-premises consumption (i.e., not a restaurant or bar) tend to be concentrated in low-income neighborhoods with high percentages of minority residents. In Washington, D.C., nearly 80 percent of alcohol outlets in wards with predominantly African American residents are licensed for off-premises consumption, compared to just over 20 percent of outlets in other wards. 79 Liquor or convenience stores can create additional problems, such as street-corner drinking, which degrade neighborhoods. A 1999 study of off-site alcohol outlets in New Orleans found a 2 percent increase in the homicide rate for every 10 percent increase in the density of alcohol outlets. 80
According to a 1998 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation survey on youth access to alcohol, two in three Americans favored the right of voters to pass local laws controlling the sale and consumption of alcohol in individual communities. 81Chicago residents are using the ballot to reduce alcohol availability in their communities; 19 percent of the city's precincts have voted themselves dry, or opted to close problematic establishments. 82
Alcohol advertisers promote their products through placement in movies, and pay a premium to have their brands featured in films. Among the most popular movie rentals in 1996 and 1997, drinking was depicted in more than 90 percent; alcohol brand names were identified in 43 percent of these films. 89 Even movies for children show characters drinking. A 1999 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that among 50 G-rated animated movies made in the past 60 years, half portrayed alcohol use, and half of the drinkers were "good" characters. 90 None of the films depicted the negative health consequences of alcohol use.
Exposure to alcohol ads may predispose young people to drinking. 91 A 1994 study in Northern California found that 5th and 6th graders who recognized beer advertisements held more favorable beliefs about drinking and intended to drink more frequently later in life. A 1999 Federal Trade Commission report on alcohol industry advertising practices found the need for reducing the appeal of ads to underage consumers, curtailing underage exposure to alcohol ads through changes in placement, restricting placement of products to R and NC-17 rated films, and curbing on-campus and spring break sponsorships and advertising. 92
Alcohol ads often target college students. Although advertising by beer and distilled spirits companies has largely disappeared from college newspapers since passage of minimum legal drinking age laws, in its place promotions for local alcohol retailers, bars, taverns and distributors have grown significantly. 93The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found that between 1984 and 1996, the average space in college newspapers devoted to advertising by local alcohol outlets increased by 68 percent. CSPI's analysis revealed that in 1996, one-third of the local alcohol ads promoted heavy drinking, including "all you can drink" events and "penny a pitcher" nights. Bar promoters also distribute handbills to students on campus and stuff student mailboxes with promotional material. 94
Companies outside the alcohol industry also use alcohol to sell their products to college students. In the Fall of 1998, for example, Abercrombie and Fitch included ten recipes for mixed drinks and instructions for a drinking game in its back-to-college catalogue under the heading "Drinking 101." 95The material was eventually removed, but only after strong public opposition from groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
In recent years, the alcohol industry has taken steps toward encouraging responsible drinking. For example, in 1999, Anheuser-Busch launched a $40 million "Responsible Drinking" campaign to run on television, radio, print and billboard ads.96 The campaign focuses on reinforcing the efforts of designated drivers, bartenders who serve drinks responsibly, parents who talk to their children about drinking and retailers who check identification.
65. M. Grossman et al., "Effects of Alcohol Price Policy on Youth: A Summary of Economic Research." Journal of Research on Adolescence, 42(2):347-364, 1994.
66 . State of the Industry: A Second Consecutive Year of Growth (Annual Report). Washington, DC: Beer Institute, 1997.
67 . M. Grossman et al., "Effects of Alcohol Price Policy on Youth: A Summary of Economic Research." Journal of Research on Adolescence, 42(2):347-364, 1994.
68 . Griffith Edwards et al., Alcohol Policy and the Public Good. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 1994.
69 . Philip J. Cook, "The effect of liquor taxes on drinking, cirrhosis and auto accidents." In Alcohol and Public Policy: Beyond the Shadow of Prohibition (Mark H. Moore and Dean R. Gerstein (Eds.). Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 255-285, 1981.
70 . Youth Access to Alcohol Survey. Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 1998.
71 . "Historic Tax Rates: Alcoholic Beverages." Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Department of Treasury, 1998.
72 . The Economic Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the United States, 1992. Prepared by the Lewin Group for the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, May 1998.
73 . State Alcohol Taxes and Health: A Citizen's Action Guide. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1996.
. State Alcohol Taxes and Health: A Citizen's Action Guide. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1996.
74 . "State Government Tax Collections: 1998." U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Governments Division, 1999.
75 . 1998 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors Among Military Personnel. Conducted by the Research Triangle Institute for the Department of Defense, March 1999.
76 . Summary of Findings from the 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
77 . Richard A. Scribner, David P. MacKinnon and James H. Dwyer, "Alcohol outlet density and motor vehicle crashes in Los Angeles County cities." Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 44:447-453, 1994.
78 . Facing Facts: Drugs and the Future of Washington, DC. Washington, DC: Drug Strategies, 1999.
79 . Richard Scribner, Deborah Cohen, Stephen Kaplan and Susan H. Allen, "Alcohol availability and homicide in New Orleans: conceptual considerations for small area analysis of the effect of alcohol outlet density." Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 60(3):310-316, 1999.
80. Youth Access to Alcohol Survey. Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, September 1998.
81. Peter Annin, "Prohibition Revisited?" Newsweek, December, 7, 1998, p.68.
"Alcohol Advertising Targeted at Youth on the Internet: An Update." Washington, DC: Center for Media Education, October 1998.
82 . Adams Beer Handbook 1998. New York: Adams Business Media, 1998.
83 . Adams Wine Handbook 1998. New York: Adams Business Media, 1998.
84. Adams Liquor Handbook 1998. New York: Adams Business Media, 1998.
85. Adams Beer Handbook 1998. New York: Adams Business Media, 1998.
86. Adams Liquor Handbook 1998. New York: Adams Business Media, 1998.
87. D.G. Altman, C. Schooler and M.D. Basil, "Alcohol and Cigarette Advertising on Billboards." Health and Education Research: Theory and Practice, 6(4):487-490, 1991.
88. Melanie Wells, "Beer, Cigarette Billboards Get the Boot," USA Today, December 16, 1997, p.B3.
89. Substance Use in Popular Movies & Music, ONDCP and HHS, April 1999.
90. Adam O. Goldstein, Rachel A. Sobel and Glen R. Newman, "Tobacco and Alcohol Use in G-Rated Children's Animated Films." Journal of the American Medical Association, 281(12):1131-1136, 1999.
91. Joel W. Grube and Lawrence Wallack, "Television Beer Advertising and Drinking Knowledge, Beliefs, and Intentions among Schoolchildren." American Journal of Public Health, 84(2):254-259, 1994.
92. Self-Regulation in the Alcohol Industry: A Review of Industry Efforts to Avoid Promoting Alcohol to Underage Consumers. Federal Trade Commission, September, 1999.
93. Last Call for High-Risk Bar Promotions that Target College Students: A Community Acton Guide. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1997.
94. Last Call for High-Risk Bar Promotions that Target College Students: A Community Acton Guide. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1997.
95. Jennifer Harper, "?Drinking 101' gets poor marks." The Wallstreet Journal, July 24, 1998, p. A2.
96. "Anheuser-Busch Launches New ?Responsible Drinking' Advertising Campaign." Press Release from Anheuser-Busch, September 9, 1999.
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