Opposing Views Of Levy On Alcohol

Published February 6, 2009

RE: “BATTLE lines drawn over alcohol taxes: Package stores predict loss of business to N.H.,” Page A1, Jan. 30) The precedent for Massachusetts’ self-defeating fiscal policy of raising alcohol taxes is the consumer reaction to increased cigarette taxes, which have driven Bay State smokers to buy across the border in New Hampshire.

Governor Patrick plans to raise the excise tax 50 cents on a $10 bottle of wine. Massachusetts is bordered by Vermont, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, with retail liquor stores within driving distance.

Citing healthcare statistics, the governor and state legislators claim they are only trying to wean people off unhealthy lifestyle choices by reducing the number of smokers and drinkers. But at the same time they depend on the revenues from these habits to balance the state budget? That’s an unhealthy policy, to be sure.

Ralph W. Conner
The writer is local legislation manager at the Heartland Institute.

This Letter to the Editor was originally published in The Boston Globe.