To the Editor:
If nothing is certain but death and taxes, it’s no wonder the media is lapping up recent claims that 1,150 Americans will die every year if the Senate reduces alcohol taxes. The statistic is more hyperbole than certainty.
The uproar mirrors recent misinformation that one daily drink increases the risk of breast cancer by 5 percent. For the average 30-year-old woman, that amounts to a real risk increase of less than one-50th of 1 percent for breast cancer before age 40.
Real-world alcohol and tax trends reveal inflation has steadily reduced federal alcohol taxes since the 1950s to less than 10 cents per serving of beer or wine, and less than 20 cents per 80-proof shot of liquor. Yet despite access to comparatively cheaper drinks, death from alcohol-related causes remains relatively stable, increasing by 0.002 percent in the last three decades. The two aren’t correlated, let alone causative.
By definition, alcohol-related deaths involve excessive drinking and studies clearly indicate that addiction and substance abuse do not adhere to simple supply and demand.
Think critically about the claim: Even if the federal excise tax were completely eliminated, does anyone believe a 20 cent cheaper bar tab is the only safeguard from rampant loss of life? Resist the fearmongering and enjoy your slightly cheaper drink.
Dr. Joseph Perrone
Chief Science Officer
Center for Accountability in Science