ISSUE: UNDERAGE DRINKING
More than a quarter of the American population who are too young to drink are doing so anyway according to a new report issued today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Although there has been progress in reducing the extent of underage drinking in recent years, particularly among those aged 17 and younger, the rates of underage drinking are still unacceptably high. Not only did 26.6 percent of 12-20 year-olds report drinking in the month before they were surveyed, 8.7 percent of them purchased their own alcohol the last time they drank. The study used combined data from SAMHSA’s 2008 to 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
Reallocating or raising the alcohol tax is a new way to provide funding for mental health and addition treatment. Additionally, research shows that an increase in al-cohol taxes or the cost of alcoholic beverages causes a decrease in underage con-sumption and adult high risk drinking. Increased taxes also lead to a decrease in al-cohol-related traffic crashes, violent crimes and cases of liver cirrhosis.
Alcohol taxes have not been raised in Indiana since 1981. Adjusting for inflation, the average Indiana beer tax in 2000 was one-third of the beer tax in 1968. The more the price is increased, the greater the impact on underage drinking. Indiana is losing millions of dollars in revenue each year that the tax remains the same, result-ing in inadequate funding for the enforcement of alcohol laws and the prevention and treatment of alcohol abuse.
PRIORITY LEVEL: I