Public health works best when it is driven by data and aims to reduce disparities and protect health for everyone to reach their fullest potential. We were excited to read the recent commentary, “Increase in alcohol tax could help address state’s health inequities” (Sept. 28), by three state legislators who want to do just that: take action in a way that is both meaningful and has demonstrated effectiveness. Their plan to create health equity resource communities is a commonsense way to direct new resources into under-served communities to improve health care.
Maryland has long been a leader in health. However, not everyone benefits equally and disparities often follow well-defined community boundaries. This plan, including its funding stream, is based on interventions we know work.
Only about half of all Marylanders will be affected by a penny-per-dollar increase in the alcohol tax and of these, most will not notice it. The last increase in 2011 reduced drunken driving, binge drinking and sexually transmitted infections. In short, it saved lives.
The legislation not only aims to be equitable to communities, it also considers businesses by exempting restaurants and bars from the tax increase for two years, providing them with a chance to recover from the pandemic’s fallout.
The time is right for Maryland to address the inequities of our health care system. This is how we do it.
Raimee H. Eck and Erica Hertz Weiss, Columbia
The writers are co-chairs of the advocacy committee of the Maryland Public Health Association.
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