Should businesses selling alcohol pay a ‘violence tax’?

The relationship between youth violence and alcohol no longer is up for debate: we know, for a fact, that alcohol plays a CAUSAL role in violent crime, particularly amongst young Australians. What’s left now is to find solutions to this growing problem. One potential solution that has been receiving significant attention recently is the idea of introducing a so-called ‘violence tax’ to businesses that sell alcohol.

The main argument for the violence tax is that it’s too easy for young people to purchase alcohol – and, in particular, to purchase large amounts of very cheap alcohol. Raising taxes on drinks sold at bottle shops and other venues might act as a deterrent and reduce accessibility.

The findings of a recent two-year study in Newcastle argue that current licensing laws are not strict enough. It suggests that most alcohol-related violence in the area occurs as a result of people consuming a significant number of drinks before hitting the town. According to the study, Dealing with alcohol-related harm and the night-time economy, the low cost of alcohol in bottle shops and cut price liquor outlets makes it easy for young people to get drunk before they even make it to a bar or club.

Some experts argue that imposing a violence tax on drinks bought at bottle shops will deter people from drinking too much before they go out. Of course, bottle shops aren’t solely to blame and people should take responsibility for their own actions. If a violence tax is introduced, it should go hand in hand with additional education programs, teaching young people the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and the long-term consequences of alcohol-induced violence. Increased costs are merely a deterrent – the only real solution is a change to Australia’s drinking culture.