Sir, – As Budget Day approaches, lobbying to alter the excise duty charged to alcohol intensifies, as witnessed by recent letters to this publication (Letters, September 21st, 23rd).
In light of research over recent decades informing our understanding of the impact of excessive alcohol consumption on society in general and on the exchequer in particular, a more enlightened approach is now required.
Excise duty on alcohol should be abolished to be replaced by a levy on the industry which fully covers the cost to society of alcohol misuse.
Building upon some of the excellent academic research that exists, Government should establish a working group to develop a transparent, evidence-based model, which captures, among others the health costs, both acute and chronic; the public order and criminal costs, including victim costs; and the work absenteeism costs associated with alcohol misuse.
Any politician demurring to pursue this course of action should explain to the electorate why, when there are so many pressing demands on the public purse, they see fit, as some reports suggests, to continue to subvent alcohol industry profits to the tune of several billion euro per annum.
In the meantime, Government should introduce emergency legislation to ensure that the costs of alcohol dependency treatment programmes are fully funded by the industry.
And in case this proposal is considered oddball, just remember that despite the handsome contribution to the exchequer from motoring receipts, one is still required to have insurance against any damage use of one’s vehicle may cause. – Yours, etc,