Blog: Olly WehringPeer pressure on ‘pops tax

Olly Wehring | 14 December 2006

You could write a movie about it –Californian high school students revolt against the alcohol industry to save their peers from excessive drinking.

It would be real-life too, not fiction, because four Sacramento high school students testified this week before the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) in a bid to reduce underage drinking by increasing the taxes collected on RTDs.

The youngsters are also unhappy with the nature of alcopop ads that focus on flirting and partying - both popular past-times for some, but evidently not all, senior students.

In such a movie, brands like Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Silver would play their parts, facing price hikes if the increases went through. The Californian tax board would be the ‘baddies’, as would other state officials… Enter Governor Schwarzenegger for a starring role.

The teens say that alcopops, which are currently taxed at the same rate as beer in California, contain distilled spirits and should therefore be taxed at the higher rate.

They propose spending the increased state tax revenue on organisations like California Friday Night Live Partnership, Students Making a Community Change, and California Youth Council, which help youngsters avoid alcohol abuse and drink driving.

The BOE yesterday agreed to review the situation, but added that RTDs “are defined by Federal regulations as malt beverages in which the majority of alcohol is the product of brewing”.

Perhaps a happy ending is not yet guaranteed for these enterprising teens?


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