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AUS: Foster's promises RTD tax hike refund to health initiatives

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Australia's Foster's Group has said it intends to donate its refund from the country's collapsed RTD tax hike to alcohol and health initiatives.

Yesterday (18 March), a vote in the Senate defeated the introduction last April of a 70% rise in the tax rate of RTDs, in an attempt to improve public health and cut young peoples' alcohol consumption.

Today, Foster's said it would apply a refund it expects following the vote, which will be in the region of A$20m (US$13.7m), to "direct support for responsible drinking, alcohol education (and assistance) and health awareness programmes".

The company said it will establish a fund to support community-based organisations and health and awareness programmes such as 'DrinkWise', an organisation working toward a more responsible drinking culture in Australia, 'Rethinking Drinking', the national schools-based alcohol education programme, Foster's 'Enjoy Responsibly' education and awareness initiatives, and other community-based partnerships.

"As this money was raised to reduce alcohol-related harm, we firmly believe that funding previously earmarked for government programmes must go directly to community assistance and education", said Foster's CEO, Ian Johnston.

"As a company, and as a broader community, we need to increase our efforts toward addressing the harmful aspects of our drinking culture.

"We have consistently maintained that there are no 'bad drinks' only harmful drinking behaviours" Johnston continued. "However, we recognise the community concern over youth and high-risk drinking and took the voluntary step this time last year to cease production of higher alcohol and added energy RTDs - those products we believed were particularly vulnerable to misuse."

The vote on the tax increase, introduced to improve public health and cut young peoples' alcohol consumption, was defeated in the Senate by 32 votes to 31.


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