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