Alcohol tax will save lives and could help many others

July 01, 2011

In her recent article about the new alcohol sales tax increase, Annie Linskey correctly stated that the coalition that fought for this historic and life saving measure advocated that some of the money raised by the tax fund services to help people with developmental disabilities ("Dime a drink? Try a quarter," June 29). She left out, however, that the coalition is urging just as strongly that money from the tax also fund health care coverage, mental health needs, substance abuse treatment and prevention, and health care worker training. Further, the article did not refer to the tremendous public health benefits of the new tax which, according to top experts at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will save numerous lives by reducing underage drinking and alcohol abuse.

The Lorraine Sheehan Alcohol Tax Coalition is very pleased to publicly release a letter from Gov. Martin O'Malley supporting our goal of making sure alcohol tax revenues are used to "address the broader spectrum of health and community services needs identified in the original Lorraine Sheehan Act." We look forward to working with the governor and the General Assembly to make sure that this happens through the regular budget process.

Plainly, the alcohol sales tax increase is a great public health victory for the people of Maryland and we thank Governor O'Malley and the legislature for standing up to the alcohol lobby to accomplish this.

Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative.

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