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5 Jun, 2016

Australia urged to raise alcohol taxes, ban alcohol sponsorship in sport

CANBERRA, June 1 (NNN-Xinhua) — The Australian government should ban alcohol sponsorship in sport, introduce higher alcohol taxes and mandate “lockout laws” to reduce alcohol-related harm, the nation’s largest not-for-profit health provider has said.

St Vincent’s Health Australia has released its health “wish list” ahead of the 2016 federal election, and has urged both major political parties to seriously consider wider-ranging in an effort to reduce alcohol-related harm by 20 percent by 2025.

The organization’s CEO, Toby Hall, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday too much taxpayer money was being wasted on caring for alcohol-affected people in hospitals, and urged both sides of government to funnel the hundreds of millions of dollars into prevention instead.

“You’ve got 157,000 people every year going into hospital, you’ve got around 60 percent of crime in Australia related to alcohol, (and) nearly a billion dollars spent on putting people into hospital because of alcohol,” Hall said.

He said by reducing alcohol-related harm by 20 percent over the next decade, there would be up to 30,000 fewer hospital admissions every year, while there would also be three fewer deaths related to alcohol per day.

Hall also called for alcohol sponsorship in sport to be banned, as impressionable children were subconsciously associating alcohol with their heroes and favorite teams.

“We see major sporting teams, including our national cricket team, our State of Origin teams, and our national rugby team, with sponsorships relating to alcohol,” Hall said.

“Many of our young people are growing up and seeing that there’s a link — sport and alcohol go together and that’s a normal thing. We want to break that link.”

St Vincent’s Health also said the availability of cheap, high-alcohol booze was a blight on the current taxation system, adding that a more streamlined tax service could raise billions for the government.

“Most of the world actually bases its tax on volumes and there’s very clear evidence that as the price goes up, people go to lower volume alcohol or they reduce their alcohol consumption,” Hall said.

Previous research into an alcohol tax change, commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, found changes to alcohol taxes could generate up to 1.8 billion U.S dollars per year. — NNN-XINHUA