HB136 – Curbing Over-consumption of Alcohol

by Jack Draxler

Utah has held a strong tradition in family values and a strong work ethic. We, as legislators, work to protect these commonly held beliefs and keep our communities safe.

Recently, I was shocked to find a study that found excessive alcohol consumption kills 79,000 per year. While that number is less in Utah, it is still a strong call to action.

In the same Center for Disease Control and Prevention study, it was found that excessive alcohol consumption costs the United States $223.5 billion in 2006. Nearly 75% of these costs came from those who binge drink. Binge drinking, as defined by the CDC is consuming four or more drinks in one sitting for women, and five or more for men.

To try and curb this loss in human life, lost productivity, rehabilitation and other medical costs, the CDC recommends that communities enact several measures. These include raising alcohol costs, and making liquor outlets less common in our communities.

After researching the issue a bit more, I also found many studies that show these measures described by the CDC will work to stop those who may begin to drink at a younger age. Underage drinking continues to plague our young people, and I believe there is a responsible way to lessen its effects, and eventually stop the problem.

In HB136, Alcohol Beverage Control Related Amendments, I propose that we address raising alcohol costs. This increase comes primarily in the form of markups on certain liquor products, and increase in the beer tax.

These are not enormous markups. They are small increases can create a large benefit for those in our communities who may be suffering from alcohol addiction, and is a step forward  to stop underage drinking.

In addition to protecting the vulnerable in our areas, this increase is estimated to bring in several million per year in increased revenue to both state and local governments.

HB136 is a strong step forward in protecting our children, ourselves and our communities from the concerns surrounding over-consumption of alcohol.

I encourage you to support HB136. The bill will be heard in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee Friday morning, beginning at 8 AM. Listen in live at le.utah.gov.