Poll Says Most Oregonians Favor Beer Tax

Echoing previous polls, a survey of Oregon voters conducted by Moore Information, Inc. shows that 61 percent favor increasing the Oregon beer tax by fifteen cents a glass.

The survey conducted last month also revealed concern that alcohol and drug problems will increase as a result of the recession.

 Oregon’s beer tax – less than a penny a glass – is effectively the lowest in the country and hasn’t been raised in 32 years. “This poll shows what we’ve known for a long time,” says Judy Cushing, President/CEO of Oregon Partnership, a statewide non-profit dedicated to combating alcohol and drug abuse. “Oregonians are willing to pay pennies more for a beer to raise millions of dollars that will go directly toward prevention, treatment, and recovery.”

 It is projected the tax increase would raise about $165 million per year. Oregonians pay more than $3 billion a year for alcohol-related crime, violence, lost productivity and health costs. Alcohol and drug abuse was a factor in 55 percent of cases where children were removed from the homes of their parents or guardians in 2007.

 “It is realistic and efficient to fund prevention and treatment services with revenues from the sale of the product that creates the problem,” adds Cushing. “More than 90 percent of the tax revenue will come from the major out-of-state producers who have been getting what amounts to a free ride for their product sold in Oregon.”

Substance abuse prevention and treatment programs in Oregon are facing funding cuts of 83 percent.

 Meanwhile, the need is increasing: The state’s alcohol and drug crisis lines and the suicide prevention line – operated by Oregon Partnership – are receiving more than double the normal amount of calls from those seeking help.

According to Moore Information, Inc, a Portland opinion research firm, key findings of the survey reveal:  61 percent of Oregonians favor increasing the beer and wine tax by fifteen cents a glass in order to ensure adequate funding for substance abuse treatment and prevention programs. This tax is supported in all regions of the state among Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike.

 Given a choice between cutting funding of substance abuse treatment and prevention programs or increasing taxes to ensure these programs are adequately funded, increasing the beer and wine tax is preferred by a margin of 64 percent to 29 percent.

  80 percent of voters statewide are concerned about substance abuse, with voters outside the Portland Metro area most concerned.

 64 percent expect substance abuse problems to increase as a result of the recession. While the poll referred to a “beer and wine tax,” House Bill 2461 in the Oregon Legislature only applies to beer.

About Oregon Partnership: Oregon Partnership is a statewide nonprofit that has worked to promote healthy kids and communities for well over a decade by raising awareness about drug and alcohol issues, providing prevention education in classrooms, and 24-hour crisis lines for people needing help. To learn more, visit http://www.orpartnership.org.

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