Alco-pop tax unpopular

THE federal government's decision to increase the tax on pre-mixed alcoholic drinks in a bid to stop teenage binge drinking has been met with criticism from the alcohol industry and consumers.

The tax increase on pre-mixed drinks, including Vodka Cruisers and Bacardi Breezers, that are popular with younger drinkers and commonly sold in packs of four or six, are now costing%between 30c and $1.30 more per bottle.

Tweed Coast Liquor Accord chairman Rob Smith labelled the decision as "questionable", saying there was little research to support the move.

"We have to question whether a price rise of this magnitude is going to be effective," Mr Smith said.

By increasing the price of just one type of alcoholic beverage, he said there was a real risk of young people simply finding alternative alcoholic beverages.

Staff members at one Coolangatta bottle shop said they had been caught off-guard by the unexpected price increase, which had left many in the industry annoyed.

They said not only did it not allow bottle shop owners to buy up extra stock before the price hike, but it had also left wholesalers counting the cost.

"No-one is going to buy them (pre-mixed drinks) any more," one employee said.

"There is no mark-up on beer, so everyone will just move on to that."

Coolangatta local Tammy Blunsdon, 27, a regular drinker of pre-mixed spirits, said she was annoyed at the price rise. However, she said she was not likely to turn to beer, wine or non-mixed spirits instead.

"No, because I still have to drink something, and I'm fussy with my alcohol," she said. "I'd just go without other things."

Reports claim the government stands to make $2 billion a year as part of the tax increase. "I hope the tax collected would be used towards customer education, particularly for teenagers," Mr Smith said.

"At least RTDs (ready to drink) have a measured amount of alcohol and consumers can make an informed decision that way. In some cases it's very hard to measure a standard drink, but with those ones it is all pre-packaged for you.

"It (the increase) is a populous decision which I don't think has any basis to support it at all."



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