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Could Raising Alcohol Prices Help Boston’s Addicts?

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boston raising alcohol pricesCould Boston be raising alcohol prices? City Councilors Bill Linehan and Frank Baker are trying to raise the price of booze in Boston, saying that a tax on all alcohol sold citywide could provide funds for addiction treatment services.

Raising Alcohol Prices

A bumpy road so far

The proposal was first introduced in 2014, and then again in 2015. Both times, it was met with resistance. In 2015 the Boston Globe reported that the proposal was dropped after retailers balked at the idea, saying it “unfairly singled out their industry while leaving alone alcohol sold at restaurants, taverns, and bars.” In Massachusetts, alcohol is currently subject to both an excise tax and a 6.25 percent sales tax.

Boston’s opioid epidemic

Despite pushback on the proposed tax, the city’s problem remains: Boston has experienced a surge in drug-related deaths in recent years. According to a CBS Boston article, there were 1,379 opioid-related deaths in 2015, a seven percent increase from the prior year. The number of overdoses has been driven even higher by the use of fentanyl, a synthetic opiate that’s frequently mixed with heroin. Although new state laws were passed, including a seven-day limit on first-time prescriptions for opiate painkillers that passed in the House unanimously, the public health crisis continues in Boston as well as in the rest of the United States.

The tax proposal

According to a recent Boston Globe article, the councilors plan to reintroduce the proposal for a 2 percent tax on alcohol, arguing that the increased revenue could total $20 million – a huge boost to a city struggling to treat its addicts and offer reasonable access to care

In the article, Boston City Councilor Bill Linehan says, “Everyone’s talking about [addiction], and we’re all making gradual impacts on the issue. But the real impact, like anything in this country, comes from a comprehensive application of resources… We need to create new resources.”

Linehan and Baker also specifically outline how the additional $20 million in revenue would be used: $11 million for city shelters, $4 million for therapeutic support, and to pay 24-hour addiction-outreach coordinators.

Taking control of your future

Whether or not the alcohol tax proposal is passed, taking measures to combat both opioid use and alcoholism is ultimately a step in the right direction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, you can also take a positive step by calling us at The Watershed. Contact us anytime at 1-800-861-1768 to learn how our treatment programs can help you take control of your future.




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