Americans being asked (or forced) to pony up more money to be able to enjoy the pleasures in life is nothing new. According to tobaccofreekids.com the national average tax charged on a pack of cigarettes is $1.45 and is supposed to be spent on programs to prevent those who are underage from picking up the habit as well as get kids to stop smoking if they have picked it up. The problem is that like most things in life, we are not given the whole story. According to NoCigTax.com these monies go to things like Medicaid Dental Services in Maine, and upgrading public television stations with DVD technology in Nevada. And while some of these programs are good and serve a noble purpose, the money is not going to where it was promised. Now, an advocacy group in Maryland is wanting to impose a “dime a drink” tax to help pay for health care for those who can not afford it themselves. The new tax would add about $2.40 on a case of beer.
Supporters of the proposed tax say it could raise $249 million that may be used for alcohol cessation programs and healthcare for those with mental health disorders. Currently the tax proposal has some heavy backers; Maryland Nurses Association, AARP of Maryland, the National Association of Social Workers amongst others. A similar five cent tax failed in 2009.
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health released a report that a “dime a drink” tax would net about 15,000 fewer cases of alcohol dependence. While I am not saying I am smarter than anyone who works at Johns Hopkins I can not see a couple of dollars keeping someone from picking up beer for the weekend, especially at 60 cents a six pack. The beer tax is currently 9 percent in Maryland and if this passes it will increase that amount to $1.16, and for those of you without a calculator that is an increase of 1,189 percent.
Restaurant and store owners that sell alcoholic beverages say they are not against these programs receiving funds to operate, they simply do not feel they should be the ones responsible for creating the revenue to do so.