French beer tax - a step in the right direction
The French government has increased tax on beer by 160%, which is a step in a right direction that will help to address alcohol related harm and improve public budget.
The French Social Insurance budget for 2013 includes some of the best known effective measures to address public health concerns, namely increase in taxes on unhealthy products. The measures include taxes on beer, tobacco and energy drinks:
- Beer with an increase of 160% taxes which represents an increase of 5 cents per 330 ml.
- Energy drinks with a special tax of 50 € per hl will affect beverages containing a minimum of 0.22g of caffeine and 0.3g of taurine per liter. This measure aims to discourage mostly teenage consumers, who often mix energy drinks with alcohol.
- Tobacco with an increase of about 30 cents on most packs of cigarettes and 60 cents on packets of rolling tobacco from July 2013.
Experts agree that increase on taxes is one of the best effective measures to tackle alcohol related harm. Studies have shown statistically significant associations between alcohol consumption and three indicators of harm: fatal traffic accidents, (non- fatal) traffic injuries and liver cirrhosis.
"We would like to congratulate the French government for taking the lead and increasing the taxes on alcoholic beverages. At times of current economic difficulties increasing the taxes on alcohol is a win - win situation for all. It helps to repair our public budgets and at the same time prevents and reduces the alcohol related harm. We hope other European governments will follow the French example and increase taxes on alcohol. This is an area also where the European Commission could help, while looking at cuts across different areas to help the EU budget, it could also investigate ways of raising money, such as increasing EU minimum excise duties on alcohol", said Mariann Skar, Secretary General of European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare).
The affordability of alcoholic beverages has increased in Europe over the last 12 years. The real value of excise duty rates for most alcoholic beverages has gone down since 1996 and consequently alcohol has been much more affordable. There has been a decline in the EU minimum excise duty rate in real terms for alcoholic beverages since 1992 as they have not been adjusted for inflation.
EUROCARE (The European Alcohol Policy Alliance) is an alliance of non-governmental and public health organisations with around 50 member organisations across 23 European countries advocating the prevention and reduction of alcohol related harm in Europe.
FACTS AND FIGURES ON ALCOHOL
- ·Europe has the highest drinking levels in the world, the highest alcohol per capita consumption and the highest alcohol- related harm problems.
- Chronic diseases, to which alcohol is the 3rd main contributory factor, are in the top of global risks next to such threats like fiscal crises and are expected to cost global economy over 30 trillion USD over the next two decades.
- Across the EU some €125 billion a year (equivalent to 1.3% GDP). This is figure for 2004 likely to be higher by now
- Alcohol is a major contributory factor in accidents; 1 in 3 of all road traffic deaths are caused by alcohol
- 1 in 4 of male deaths between 15-29 years are due to alcohol
- Alcohol is a risk factor in some 60 diseases such as cancer, liver cirrhosis etc.
- Taking all diseases and injuries at global level into account, the negative health impact of alcohol consumption is 31.6 times higher than benefit
 WHO and World Economic Forum (2011) From Burden to ‘Best Buys’ Reducing the Economic Impact of Non-communicable Diseases