A Queens lawmaker wants to raise taxes on alcohol in order to help alcoholics.
Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, who has often advocated for increased services to combat alcohol addiction, introduced legislation that would create a new Alcohol Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund, which would be used exclusively for the purpose of financing alcohol addiction recovery programs and alcoholism education programs, and would act as a supplement to existing funds intended for alcohol addiction prevention and recovery.
“Patients addicted to opioids. Cocaine, and other mind-altering substances began their history of substance abuse with alcohol because it is the most easily obtainable and socially acceptable drug Americans are exposed to,” DenDekker said. “Alcohol is the number one gateway drug and any serious initiative that aims to curb the effects of substance abuse must place alcohol use and addiction as a top priority.”
Each year thousands of Americans are killed by drunk drivers; between 2012 and 2016 more than 1,600 New Yorkers died in accidents involving drunk or alcohol-impaired driving, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
Consumption of alcohol preceded 55 percent of domestic violence in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization, and 51 percent of incarcerated people with mental health health issues in state prisons have a dependency on alcohol, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
“The need for increased services is not being addressed,” DenDekker said. “New York State needs more in-patient treatment for uninsured and underinsured individuals. As well as transitional supportive housing for those recently discharged from an in-patient facility for alcohol abuse.”
The proposed increase would amount to an additional 3 cent charge per 12-ounce can of beer, an additional 2 cents per glass of wine, with an additional 10 cents per shot of high-alcohol liquor.
“The slight increase in the cost of an alcoholic beverage from the tax is negligible,” DenDekker said.
The additional revenue would total $260 million per year and would double the current budget allocation to current alcohol abuse treatment and prevention programs in New York State. Revenues generated by the tax would be used only to improve or increase alcohol addiction recovery and prevention services.
“Hundreds of thousands of New Yorker battle with alcohol addiction, and it is our duty to help them deal with this menacing disease,” DenDekker said.”It is imperative that current programs are expanded and funded to aid in alcohol addiction prevention and recovery.