Youth against Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (YADD), , an organisation that advocates against drug and alcohol dependency among young people has expressed concerns over the recent reduction of excess tax on alcoholic beverages from 45 to 40 percent by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development which has seen prices of alcohol beverages going down.
YADD says reduction of excess tax which led to the drop on beer prices encourages alcohol consumption, in the end destroying the moral fabric of society.
The organisation aligns alcohol consumption to the spread of HIV virus, crime, public nuisance, road accidents, teenage pregnancy and general immorality among other things.
YADD director Tungamirai Zimonti said increasing alcohol pricing is one effective way of reducing consumption.
“International scientific evidence consistently shows that alcohol consumption and harm are influenced by price.
“Alcohol taxation, as a means of increasing the price of alcohol, is one of the most effective policy interventions to reduce the level of alcohol consumption and related problems, including mortality rates, crime and traffic accidents.
“Even small increases in the price of alcohol can have a significant impact on consumption and harm,” said Zimonti.
He said despite its reported effectiveness, taxation as a strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm has been under-utilized in Zimbabwe.
“From a public health and economic perspective, the current alcohol taxation regime in Zimbabwe is significantly flawed.
“Youth against Alcoholism and Drug Dependency notes with concern the decrease in excise tax on beer from 45% to 40% by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development,” said Zimonti.
He said the tremendous burden that alcohol harm puts on societies especially the youth who have become a target of the alcohol industry should be taken seriously and taxation of alcohol should be informed as such.
YADD has developed principles for reform of the alcohol taxation system in Zimbabwe with the primary objective of reducing harm and promoting a safer drinking culture.
Zimonti said taxation of alcohol should be based on the principle that alcohol is no ordinary commodity but a product responsible for major harms in the community.
“The approach to alcohol taxation should be volumetric, with tax increasing for products with higher alcohol volumes,” said Tungamirai Zimonti.
“The alcohol taxation system should have the capacity to target alcohol products deemed to be of higher risk, or creating additional harms in the community.”
Zimonti said there should be an overall increase in alcohol taxation and the price of alcohol should increase over time.
“There is also a need to regulate the minimum price (or floor price) of alcohol products,” he said.
“A proportion of alcohol taxation revenue should be hypothecated to prevent and reduce alcohol-caused harm in the community.”