Health policy II

Previously we argued that space settlements should invest in preventive medicine in order to reduce healthcare expenses. We discussed several causes of diseases and measures to deal with them. Here we will turn to another important cause of preventable diseases: alcohol.

Alcohol consumption is related to several medical conditions including cancer and liver disease. Also alcohol is a major cause of traffic accidents and violent crime. Even a modest consumption of alcohol will increase aggression in humans and about forty to fifty percent of US homicides involve alcohol.

By reducing alcohol consumption society will not only save medical expenses but also decrease crime and accidents.

Several scientific studies have shown that alcohol taxes are an effective tool to discourage the consumption of alcohol. Other policies suggested by research is to restrict advertisement for alcoholic beverages and to limit opening hours.

According to one study the most effective alcohol tax would be one that is based on alcohol content (i.e. a certain amount per cubic centimeter) rather than a ad valorem tax.

In our opinion the revenue raised from alcohol taxes should be used for:

  • to cover medical expenses due to alcohol consumption
  • to fund rehabilitation for alcoholics
  • to partially fund a Victim Compensation Fund

Of course, critics of an alcohol tax (mainly the alcohol industry and their cronies) will argue that higher tax will be self-defeating as it will decrease the revenue available for listed expenses as the result of lower consumption. However, they are completely missing the point. Raising revenue is only of subordinate importance.

The reduction of alcohol consumption will mean that less people will suffer from alcohol induced diseases, less people will become victim of violent crime or traffic accidents. Also reduced alcohol consumption will result in higher levels of productivity. It is reasonably to assume that the saved expenses will outweigh the potential revenue lost.

One practical example of a reduced level of general alcohol consumption would be that fewer children will be born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). People who suffer from this condition have to coop with lower intelligence, behavioral problems as will impaired hearing and sight. Apparently the live time cost of a FAS patient is about two million USD. This is a lot of money, society could have saved and used for other purposes.

5 thoughts on “Health policy II”

  1. I come from a place where the government has always increased taxes on alcohol, imposed control on opening and closing hours which for some reason have been circumvented. Those who can’t afford alcohol in the shops turn to local brews sometimes which have devastating ends.
    I don’t know how society can address alcohol consumption. Other times, I think we should let adults be. If they want to kill themselves with alcohol, good for them

    1. I am not saying this would be an easy policy to implement. However, the fundamental problem with alcohol consumption is that it affects non-drinkers too, e.g. drunk drivers, children of alcoholic parents etc. Hence we as a society can’t afford to just let adults to kill themselves.

  2. Alcohol and tobacco sales in the US are over $300 billion a year. But taxes on such items doesn’t come close to paying for the deleterious effects of such substances on individuals and society as a whole.

    In a space colony, I’d place a– 100% tax– on all tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana sales and use those tax revenues to help fund government financed medical savings accounts for all of its citizens.


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