Source: The Australian, Wednesday, November 11, 1998, p.7


Over the limit and you're asking for trouble

JUSTINE FERRARI 
Health writer 
 
A NIGHT in the pub can 
prove an injurious experience, 
with the risk of being hurt on 
the way home doubling for 
every drink after 
reaching the 0.05 blood 
alcohol limit. 
 
   A study by the National 
Centre for Research into the 
Prevention of Drug Abuse 
found that the risk of injury or 
violence was four times higher 
after consuming six drinks. 
 
   A woman imbibing between 
six and nine drinks over six 
hours was 13 times more 
likely to be injured, while men 
faced a six-fold risk after 
consuming nine drinks in the 
same time. 
 
   The study, presented 
yesterday to the conference of 
the Australian Professional 
Association of Alcohol and 
Other Drugs, found that a beer 
an hour for six hours did not 
increase the risk of being 
injured, including in car 
accidents, falls, suicide, assault 
and machine injuries. 
 
   The director of NCRPDA, 
Tim Stockwell, said the links 
between alcohol, injury and 
violence warranted an 
adjustment in the taxation of 
alcohol to reflect the lesser 
hazards posed by low-alcohol 
drinks. Dr Stockwell called for 
the GST on food to be 
scrapped and replaced by a tax 
on the alcoholic content of 
beer, wine and spirits. 
 
   Previous research by 
NCRPDA has found that cask 
wine was significantly 
associated with hospitalisation 
and night assaults, as was 
regular beer. 
 
   By contrast, bottled wine had 
little correlation with injuries 
or assault and light beer 
appeared to have a protective 
effect. 
 
   Yet cask wine, which 
allowed people to become 
drunk more quickly, was the 
most lightly taxed alcohol, 
according to the amount of 
alcohol it contained, at 7c a 
standard drink compared with 
32c for bottled wine, 38c for 
light beer and 29c for regular 
beer. Under the Coalition's tax 
package, the tax on cask wine 
will only rise by 1c. 
 
   By comparison, taxing 
beverages at 40c per gram of 
alcohol with a GST would 
increase the price of cask wine 
by $4.16; bottled wine would 
rise 56c; a carton of light beer 
would fall $4.41 and a carton 
of regular beer would rise 
$3.80. Taxing alcoholic 
content alone with no GST 
would increase the price 
differences. 
 
   "Low-alcohol beer is taxed 
five to six times the rate of 
cask wine. Instead of 
increasing the price of food and 
keeping the price of cask wine 
stable, why not do it the other 
way around?" Dr Stockwell 
said.


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