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Disabilities advocates rally outside the State House in Annapolis for alcohol tax money in 2016.
Disabilities advocates rally outside the State House in Annapolis for alcohol tax money in 2016. (File photo)

Your recent editorial describing Maryland’s relatively low rate of drunk driving fatalities rightly describes several reasons for this but leaves out one very important policy which has contributed to this success — Maryland’s 2011 alcohol sales tax increase (“Drunk driving vigilance,” Aug. 17). According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in March of 2017, that alcohol sales tax resulted in a significant reduction in the rate of all alcohol-positive drivers involved in injury crashes, especially among drivers aged 15–34 years.

Other states that have increased the tax on alcohol have found similar results. It is very important for Maryland policymakers and the public to know that the 2011 alcohol tax, which was strongly supported by Marylanders from across the state, played such a key role in Maryland’s success in reducing drunk driving. Further, other studies have shown that the 2011 alcohol sales tax increase reduced overall youth alcohol use. Finally, the money from that alcohol sales tax is being used to fund key public health programs such as helping people with developmental disabilities and drug and alcohol addictions.

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Policymakers in Maryland and other states should keep the life-saving alcohol taxes in mind when they consider ways to improve public health and fund critically needed community programs.

Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

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