Statement by David Ozgo, Senior Vice President for Economic and Strategic Analysis for the Distilled Spirits Council, in response to the study, “Effects of a 2009 Illinois Alcohol Tax Increase on Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes” in the American Journal of Public Health:
This is a classic case of advocacy researchers cherry-picking data to get sensational, but misleading, results. A closer look at the data shows that Illinois alcohol-related traffic fatalities were on a downward trend before the tax increase. In fact, the largest annual decline over the last eight years occurred in 2008, the year before the tax rate changed. Importantly, Illinois alcohol-related traffic fatalities declined faster than the national average before the tax increase and this has not been the case since the tax increase.
Repeated studies, including research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, have shown that alcohol abusers are not deterred by higher prices. It is the moderate, responsible consumers who are most sensitive to prices and are the ones that cut back the most when prices increase.
According to the Federal Dietary Guidelines, moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, a 2011 CDC study cited moderate alcohol consumption as one of four healthy lifestyle factors that help people live longer.
The nation’s distillers are totally opposed to drunk driving and have a long history of supporting comprehensive anti-drunk driving measures. Working together as a society, important progress has been made. Drunk driving deaths have declined 52% over the past two decades from 21,113 in 1982 to 10,076 in 2013.