Doctors call for higher taxes on alcohol


SPANISH doctors have called for higher taxes on alcohol.

The Spanish Society for Public Health and Sanitary Administration (SESPAS) said last Thursday, June 3, that the higher taxes should be calculated based on the actual alcohol content of alcoholic beverages. The idea seeks to put the brake on excessive alcohol consumption.

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SESPAS released a communiqué saying “higher taxes will not only increase tax revenues but also contribute to reducing alcohol consumption levels.” The communiqué goes on to say that Spain is one of the countries with the lowest tax rates on alcohol in Europe.

While SESPAS acknowledges that a moderate wine intake – one glass a day – can improve cardiovascular health, they also said that “excessive wine consumption is one of the biggest health risk factors in Europe.”

According to SESPAS, a large percentage of deaths and diseases in Spain is associated with excessive alcohol consumption. In fact, 10 per cent of deaths in people aged 15-64 are related to excessive drinking, as stated by the association.

SESPAS emphasised that excessive alcohol consumption is associated with car accidents and that 5 per cent of Spaniards aged 15-64 abuse alcohol. They also voiced their concern over “alcohol consumption among youngsters in view of its addictive nature.”

In their opinion, taxes on alcoholic beverages serve as a preventive measure.

As is the case in Italy and Germany, Spain levies a “type zero” tax on wine, and consumers only have to pay VAT on their wine purchases. Tax rates on beer are quite low and higher on distilled beverages but still relatively low when compared to other countries.

France recently levied a “minimum tax rate” on wine. SESPAS stated that in Nordic countries like Sweden and Norway taxes are directly proportional to the absolute alcohol content of the alcoholic beverages. This has “dissuasive effects” on alcohol consumption, they said.

Spain ranked eighth among OECD countries in per capita for alcohol consumption in 2009 with 11.4 litres, while Luxembourg ranked first with 15.3 litres in the same year.




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