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Introduction to Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control

In: Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control

Author

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  • Philip J. Cook

    (Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University)

Abstract

What drug provides Americans with the greatest pleasure and the greatest pain? The answer, hands down, is alcohol. The pain comes not only from drunk driving and lost lives but also addiction, family strife, crime, violence, poor health, and squandered human potential. Young and old, drinkers and abstainers alike, all are affected. Every American is paying for alcohol abuse. Paying the Tab , the first comprehensive analysis of this complex policy issue, calls for broadening our approach to curbing destructive drinking. Over the last few decades, efforts to reduce the societal costs--curbing youth drinking and cracking down on drunk driving--have been somewhat effective, but woefully incomplete. In fact, American policymakers have ignored the influence of the supply side of the equation. Beer and liquor are far cheaper and more readily available today than in the 1950s and 1960s. Philip Cook's well-researched and engaging account chronicles the history of our attempts to "legislate morality," the overlooked lessons from Prohibition, and the rise of Alcoholics Anonymous. He provides a thorough account of the scientific evidence that has accumulated over the last twenty-five years of economic and public-health research, which demonstrates that higher alcohol excise taxes and other supply restrictions are effective and underutilized policy tools that can cut abuse while preserving the pleasures of moderate consumption. Paying the Tab makes a powerful case for a policy course correction. Alcohol is too cheap, and it's costing all of us.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip J. Cook, 2007. "Introduction to Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control," Introductory Chapters,in: Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control Princeton University Press.
  • Handle: RePEc:pup:chapts:8501-1
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Adrian R. Fleissig, 2016. "Changing Trends in U.S. Alcohol Demand," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 44(3), pages 263-276, September.
    2. Nelson, Jon P. & McNall, Amy D., 2016. "Alcohol prices, taxes, and alcohol-related harms: A critical review of natural experiments in alcohol policy for nine countries," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 264-272.
    3. Richard M. Bird, 2014. "Foreign advice and tax policy in developing countries," Chapters,in: Taxation and Development: The Weakest Link?, chapter 4, pages 103-144 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Ruhm, Christopher J. & Jones, Alison Snow & McGeary, Kerry Anne & Kerr, William C. & Terza, Joseph V. & Greenfield, Thomas K. & Pandian, Ravi S., 2012. "What U.S. data should be used to measure the price elasticity of demand for alcohol?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 851-862.
    5. Resul Cesur & Inas Rashad Kelly, 2014. "Who Pays The Bar Tab? Beer Consumption And Economic Growth In The United States," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 477-494, January.
    6. Cook, Philip J. & Durrance, Christine Piette, 2013. "The virtuous tax: Lifesaving and crime-prevention effects of the 1991 federal alcohol-tax increase," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 261-267.
    7. Hjalmarsson Randi & Lindquist Matthew J., 2010. "Driving Under the Influence of Our Fathers," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-17, November.
    8. David S. Jacks & Krishna Pendakur & Hitoshi Shigeoka, 2017. "Infant Mortality and the Repeal of Federal Prohibition," Working Papers 2017-036, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    9. Tang Meng-Chi, 2013. "The Multitude of Alehouses: The Effects of Alcohol Outlet Density on Highway Safety," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 13(2), pages 1023-1050, August.
    10. Kleiman, Mark A.R. & Heussler, Lowry, 2011. "Crime-minimizing drug policy," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 286-288, May.

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