UW Health: Majority of Wisconsin voters support first beer tax increase in 40 years

Contact: Lisa Maroney

(608) 206-5829

[email protected]

MADISON, Wis. – A majority of Wisconsin voters support raising Wisconsin’s low beer tax and using the proceeds to nab drunken drivers and prevent and treat alcohol abuse, a recent survey shows.

The survey found that 58 percent support an increase in the beer tax. Support was especially strong among women (72 percent), people over 60 (72 percent) and independents (59 percent). The survey was commissioned by UW-Health, which has convened the AWARE (All-Wisconsin Alcohol Risk Education) coalition, a group of 46 health, law enforcement and civic groups concerned about the negative affects alcohol has on Wisconsin.

A large majority of Wisconsin voters, 87 percent, said that it is important to spend the increased tax revenue on stricter enforcement of drunken driving laws. The participants also felt strongly that money should be spent to treat and prevent alcohol abuse; nearly 76 percent called those goals very or somewhat important.

“A strong majority of Wisconsin voters believe we are outside mainstream America when it comes to Wisconsin’s high levels of alcohol abuse and low beer taxes,’’ said Lisa Maroney, UW Health legislative liaison. “They recognize the problems that alcohol abuse causes in Wisconsin, and they want stronger law enforcement, better prevention, and more help for people who have drinking problems.”

Wisconsin’s beer tax, of 3.65 cents per six-pack, is third lowest in the country and hasn’t been raised since 1969.

But while Wisconsin’s beer tax is near the bottom, its alcohol abuse rates top the charts. Wisconsin had the highest rates of alcohol consumption, binge drinking and heavy drinking of all U.S. states, as well as the highest alcohol use rates in the country.

The Mellman Group surveyed 500 likely Wisconsin voters between Feb. 25 and March 1, conducting a statewide telephone survey of adults registered to vote. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 4.4 percent, at the 95 percent level of confidence. A background file on survey details is available by emailing Lisa Maroney at [email protected] or Susan Smith at [email protected].