A plan to hike spirits tax in New Jersey will destroy around 1,000 hospitality jobs in the US, the country's Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) has warned.

DISCUS, which blasted the state legislature for targeting the "already struggling" hospitality industry during a recession, said that putting a thousand more waiters and bartenders in the unemployment line "is no way to shore up the state budget".

The proposal to raise the distilled spirits and wine excise taxes by 25% would increase New Jersey's tax rate from US$4.40 to $5.50/gallon on distilled spirits and from $0.70 to $0.875/gallon on wine, DISCUS said late yesterday (17 June).

"Policymakers need to understand that because alcohol taxes are already extremely high, any additional increase will hurt business and cost jobs across the hospitality industry - waiters and waitresses, store clerks, busboys and bartenders," said Jay Hibbard, DISCUS vice president.

Around 60% of the cost of a typical bottle of spirits in New Jersey already goes toward taxes, Hibbard added.

DISCUS has spent much of 2009 fighting proposals to raise alcohol tax in several states, many of which are facing deep budget deficits.

Most recently, the Senate Finance Committee raised the prospect of the first federal tax rise on alcohol since 1991, in order to fund health care reform.