Indiana state lawmakers are being urged to consider raising the state’s alcoholic beverage tax to help combat alcohol use by minors.
Lisa Hutcheson with the Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking says it would be the first such increase since 1981 and would help offset a drop in federal funding.
“We need to catch up, and even a modest increase of five cents a drink would bring in $145 million additionally to our state that could go to prevention and treatment of alcohol-related issues,” she said.
Hutcheson says that money could be well-spent on programs to influence the behaviors of at-risk young people and crack down on illegal sales to minors.
She also told the panel that many young people are getting alcohol from their homes, either behind their parents’ back or under their supervision, with those parents thinking they’re acting responsibly by keeping their kids off the streets. But Hutcheson says that actually makes young people more likely to engage in other risky behaviors.
Hutcheson says unlike years past, more young people, including pre-teens, are introduced to drinking through hard liquor instead of beer, and the number of young female drinkers is on the rise.
Lawmakers have been hearing testimony on the issue in advance of the 2012 General Assembly.