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Beer tax hike proposed in NJ

May 13, 2009 3:50:08 PM PDT
There is an effort underway in the Garden State to increase the beer tax. Addiction support groups wants Governor Corzine to raise the tax on beer in New Jersey a nickel a gallon.

"What we're saying is you must include beer in the equation at 5 cents a gallon which is expected to generate $7.5 million and dedicate it to a fund," John Hulick of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

A fund that would help bolster the mere $11 million dollars a year that goes to counties for treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.

Kass Foster of National Park says the money is needed to help thousands like her son Christian, an addict who died in 1997, unable to get the treatment he desperately needed.

"He was put on a waiting list. They said 'call every Tuesday.' Christian called every Tuesday, but he died while he was waiting," Foster said.

It's estimated there are 41,000 adults and almost 10,000 adolescents in New Jersey turned away from drug and alcohol treatment because there aren't programs available.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates if the tax on beer was raised by a nickel a gallon, that's the measure the state uses for alcohol taxes, it would mean an increase of 11 cents on a case of beer. And if you drink a case of beer a week, it'd be a total of $5.72 more a year out of your pocket.

Action News stopped by Checkers, a bar in Trenton, to see how people feel about the idea of jacking up the beer tax to fight addiction.

"I don't see a problem with it as long as it actually goes toward the addiction of people that are drinking," Ismael Andujar said.

"The wealthier could get taxed more instead of the working class people. Sometimes this is the only thing they have is a cold beer after work," Dosiree Mimms said.

"I wouldn't mind putting it towards that, but I do feel it should be fair across the board, not beer exempt," Terri Wylie of Ewing said.

Advocates say they will keep fighting for the thousands who need treatment and aren't getting it.

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