'Charge for Harm' Alcohol Mitigation Fee Program Introduced by San Francisco Supervisor Avalos

Jun 22, 2010, 18:39 ET from Marin Institute

SAN FRANCISCO, June 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- San Francisco has broken new ground again by introducing a broad, local alcohol mitigation fee program to charge alcohol wholesalers for related city and county services. On Thursday the Comptroller's office is expected to release a "nexus" study showing the relationship of alcohol sales to costs for community behavioral health services, firefighter emergency medical transport and Sheriff inebriate holding costs.

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"San Francisco government agencies cannot continue to subsidize the alcohol industry. Alcohol consumption costs San Francisco residents tens of millions of dollars in harm every year," said Bruce Lee Livingston, executive director of Marin Institute. "It's time for Big Alcohol, including wholesalers, to pay its fair share. A local alcohol charge for harm fee is long overdue."

The legislation introduced by Budget Committee Chair and Supervisor John Avalos creates a new alcohol mitigation fee. The funds must be spent on the harm alcohol consumption causes in the city. The nexus study conducted by the San Francisco City Controller will show a direct correlation between health care, human services, public safety and transport costs and consumption and wholesale sales of alcohol in the city and county.

Alcohol-related harms are reflected in treatment services, prevention services, ambulance services, and hospitalization for alcohol related illness such as cirrhosis of the liver and cancer. Other city-wide services incur alcohol related costs, such as the criminal justice system which deals with police response to traffic accidents, domestic violence and court adjudication. However, these significant costs will not be included in the current nexus study.

"At this time in our city, essential health and human services are being severely cut," said Gabriel Holland, Political Director, SEIU 1021. "This charge for harm fee will help restore some of the needed funding and services essential to our treatment and provider agencies as well as our health care services agencies that deal with alcohol-related harm daily."

"Supervisor Avalos proposes charging wholesalers the fee, not retailers, hotels, bars or restaurants," Livingston added.  "Not only are the wholesalers largely out of the county, most alcohol production is controlled and profited by three global corporations based in Europe. This fee is trivial to San Francisco consumers and negligible to businesses, while every resident pays for the health, medical and transport services."  When passed, the San Francisco alcohol mitigation fee will be the nation's first local "charge for alcohol harm" program, expanding on traditional nuisance and enforcement laws.

For additional information on Charge for Harm programs, visit MarinInstitute.org.


CONTACT: Jorge Castillo, 213-840-3336

Michael Scippa, 415-548-0492




SOURCE Marin Institute



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