WASHINGTON, January 23, 2003 – The Distilled Spirits Council today denounced a bill introduced this week in Maryland to raise liquor taxes 240 percent, calling the proposal, “unsound economic policy that will deeply hurt the state’s struggling hospitality industry.” The proposed legislation, HB 87, calls for raising the spirits tax from $1.50 per gallon to $5.12 per gallon; the wine tax from 40 cents to $1.28 per gallon; and the beer tax from 9 cents to 64 cents per gallon. “This massive tax increase would put Maryland’s retailers and hospitality industry at a competitive disadvantage to neighboring states and the District of Columbia,” said Peter Cressy, President of the Distilled Spirits Council, the national trade association representing the leading brands of distilled spirits. “Maryland’s excise tax would become the highest in the region and provide significant incentive for shoppers to buy elsewhere.” According to an economic impact analysis, if the bill passed, the price of a typical bottle of spirits will increase 11 percent, driving down sales and resulting in a $32 million loss in revenue. Additionally, over 1,200 jobs could be eliminated, particularly those in the state’s hospitality sector. “Maryland’s hospitality sector is the cornerstone of the state’s tourism industry and a major contributor to the state’s economy,” said Cressy. “At a time when the hospitality industry is struggling, the state should be looking for ways to support small businesses rather than crush them with exorbitant new taxes.” Cressy also pointed out that the two million responsible adult drinkers in Maryland already pay confiscatory taxes on their alcohol products. Currently, nearly half of the purchase price of a typical bottle of liquor goes to taxes. “Responsible consumption of distilled spirits, beer or wine is a socially acceptable part of a normal, healthy, adult lifestyle. A tax singling out a legal and responsible industry and its responsible consumers is not good public policy and is not in the public interest.”