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Álcool

Temperance faz um retorno

Dramatic shift in alcohol consumption guidelines could undermine the ultimate goal of harm reduction

More than 100 years ago temperance organizations promoting total abstention from alcohol and ultimately prohibition were a force to be reckoned with in Canada. Luckily for Canadians, sanity ultimately won out and alcohol was legalized in all provinces in the 1920s. Temperance societies may now seem like a thing of the past but there is a growing movement of lobby groups carrying the same banner under a different name.

Take, for example, the Canadian Centre for Substance use and Addiction (CCSA). Just this month it released a new relatório on alcohol that concluded that consuming more than two alcoholic beverages per week could seriously jeopardize your health. Yes, according to the CCSA, anything more than two beers in a seven-day period is cause for concern.

The CCSA’s new proposed alcohol guidelines are a radical departure from existing guidelines, which state that adults can consume upwards of 15 drinks per week for men and 10 drinks per week for women without serious danger to their health. Based on pre-pandemic data, upwards of 85 per cent of Canadian drinkers consume responsibly, according to these guidelines. Fifteen per cent of drinkers do not, however, and their problem drinking is obviously cause for concern.

The CCSA’s drastically lower guidelines for alcohol consumption will target many more than the 15 per cent of drinkers who regularly exceed the current standards. In terms of realistic public outcomes, it would be far better to focus on the relatively small number of people who struggle with serious alcohol abuse rather than to shift the goalposts so much that virtually all alcohol consumers in Canada become problem drinkers overnight.

In fact, shifting the standard so dramatically could undermine the ultimate goal of harm reduction: guidelines so divorced from the everyday experience of Canadians likely will be ignored by alcohol consumers across the country.

Another CCSA suggestion is a new “standard drink” label for alcohol. Different types of alcoholic beverage would carry labeling indicating how many such standard drinks were in each container. At first glance, this may seem to make sense, especially if the pandemic has warped many consumers’ views of what qualifies as one drink.

On the other hand, a drink’s impact will vary from person to person and situation to situation. Even for the same individual, alcohol’s impact can vary depending on how tired they are, their hydration or whether they have eaten recently. A standardized drink metric might well provide many drinkers with a false sense of security, especially regarding impaired driving. Consumers might believe that consuming two drinks at a bar leaves them able to drive when in fact the impact of those two drinks varies significantly depending on circumstances. Moreover, alcohol sold in Canada already indicates the volume and percentage of alcohol, which are clearly defined scientific metrics, on the bottle.

Beyond the merits of CCSA’s recommendations, there are obvious problems with the policy model in which government funds organizations whose purpose is to lobby government for policy changes. The CCSA is almost entirely funded by the federal government. How strange it is, in this post-Prohibition age, that the government funds a group whose mission is to discourage even moderate alcohol consumption. As Professor Sylvain Charlebois has pointed out, it’s like giving vegan organization PETA money to do a report on beef consumption in Canada. There’s not much suspense regarding what the report will say.

We know that the pandemic — specifically being home-bound for the better part of two years — shifted Canadians’ patterns of alcohol consumption. But the response to a 100-year pandemic is hardly justification for caving in to the new temperance lobby. Expanding the nanny state and infantilizing responsible drinkers is not the answer to any problem.

Publicado originalmente aqui

Mais consumidores buscando cerveja, vinhos e destilados sem álcool

Various studies over the past two years have shown that there was a worldwide increase in alcohol consumption during the pandemic because many people were worried and stressed as they self-isolated due to COVID-19.

But now, it appears there is a new trend happening as sales statistics show there has been an increase in the purchases of alcohol-free beer, wine and spirits.

“You can have non-alcoholic beers now that are so close to the real thing that you could probably fool someone in a taste test,” said Sarah Kate, an alcohol-free sommelier, who is also the founder of the website, Some Good Clean Fun.

Kate promotes an alcohol-free and healthy lifestyle and said a global survey by Bacardi Limited, the world’s largest privately held spirits company, found that 58 per cent of consumers are now drinking beverages that contain low or no alcohol for personal and mental health reasons.

Leia o artigo completo aqui

Canadá está revogando o imposto de consumo de cerveja sem álcool

A cerveja sem álcool está sujeita a impostos especiais de consumo, apesar de não conter praticamente nenhum álcool. 

Nosso Gerente de Assuntos da América do Norte, David Clement, destacou vários problemas com este imposto e foi convidado a reunir-se com o Ministério das Finanças para explicar os argumentos contra o imposto. Por exemplo, vinhos e destilados sem álcool estão isentos do imposto, o que criou uma enorme disparidade para a cerveja sem álcool. A remoção de impostos reduziria os custos para consumidores preocupados com a saúde, que buscam uma alternativa mais saudável à sua bebida favorita. Isso também seria consistente com os princípios de redução de danos, uma abordagem política que o atual governo adotou em relação a outras questões. 

Felizmente, o Orçamento 2022 remove os impostos sobre o consumo de álcool sobre cervejas que não contenham mais de 0,5% de álcool por volume. Esta é mais uma grande vitória para os consumidores canadenses!

Este é um passo na direção certa e esperamos que seja o início de uma discussão nacional sobre a modernização da estrutura do imposto especial sobre o consumo de álcool.

Para mais informações, ouça isto Episódio da Rádio Escolha do Consumidor

L'UE PREPARE DE NOUVELLES RÈGLEMENTATIONS SUR L'ALCOOL

Voilà l’alcool de nouveau attaqué pour ses effets sur la santé. Cette fois-ci par une commission du Parlement européen, qui le lie à un grand nombre de cancers. Les propositions pour limiter les choix des consommateurs se multiplient en réponse…

Au sein de la « Commission pour battre le cancer » (BECA) du Parlement européen, des législateurs sont chargés de préparer des rapports qui seront intégrés dans le « Plan européen pour vaincre le cancer » de la Commission européenne. En substance, le but de l’Union Européenne (UE) est de lutter contre les maladies dites non transmissibles, c’est-à-dire les diagnostics de cancer qui auraient pu être évités grâce à un mode de vie plus sain.

Leur première cible ? L’alcool.

En effet, selon un premier rapport réalisé par la députée européenne Véronique Trillet-Lenoir (La République En Marche), l’alcool est responsable de 10% des cancers chez les hommes et de 3% chez les femmes. Ses conclusions et recommandations soutiennent donc les objectifs de la Commission visant à réduire la consommation d’alcool de 10% d’ici 2025.

S’attaquer à l’abus d’alcool ou à la simple consommation ?

Certaines des mesures proposées ont cependant été repoussées par le Parti populaire européen (PPE, centre-droit) au Parlement européen. La position du parti majoritaire est que l’UE ne devrait pas stigmatiser la consommation d’alcool en général, mais plutôt mettre l’accent sur l’abus d’alcool.

« Si la consommation excessive d’alcool est, bien sûr, un risque pour la santé, des mesures appropriées et proportionnées doivent être prises sans stigmatiser ce secteur économique important qui fait partie de notre mode de vie », a ainsi expliqué Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé, eurodéputée PPE (Les Centristes) et vice-présidente de la commission BECA.

L’une des mesures proposées par le Parlement européen consiste à apposer des étiquettes d’avertissement sur les bouteilles de vin, qui avaient jusqu’à présent été épargnées par les étiquettes semblables à celles des paquets de cigarettes.

Cela pourrait bientôt changer, car les législateurs discutent déjà du libellé de l’étiquette, et non pas de la simple nécessité d’une étiquette d’avertissement en soi. L’étiquette dira-t-elle « toute consommation d’alcool peut entraîner un cancer » ou « l’abus d’alcool peut entraîner un cancer » ? Sera-t-elle illustrée par une photo de foie endommagé ? Peu importe, l’ancienne tradition des étiquettes de vin sera alors mutilée.

En 2023, la Commission européenne présentera également des propositions visant à réduire l’accessibilité financière et la disponibilité de l’alcool, ce qui signifie que les taxes sur la bière et les spiritueux seront probablement beaucoup plus élevées.

En outre, l’UE présentera des propositions visant à interdire la publicité pour l’alcool lors des manifestations sportives. Cette proposition a ensuite été édulcorée pour devenir « le parrainage d’événements sportifs destinés aux mineurs ». Une expression très vague… Tous les sports qui attirent les mineurs (lesquels ne le font pas ?) pourraient entrer dans cette catégorie.

En particulier, les sports qui dépendent fortement des parrainages, comme le football, pourraient être durement touchés par une telle interdiction. Les parlementaires bruxellois de gauche et les écologistes se sont opposés à toute modification des propositions existantes, arguant qu’il n’existe pas de consommation d’alcool sans danger.

Un prix unique… et plus élevé

Une suggestion susceptible d’être introduite au niveau de l’Union européenne, notamment parce qu’elle existe déjà dans des endroits comme l’Écosse et l’Irlande, est celle d’un prix minimum de l’alcool. En substance, ce modèle fixe un prix minimum par unité d’alcool et augmente les prix d’alcool en général.

Le fait que même les autorités sanitaires du gouvernement écossais, après avoir analysé la mesure, ont constaté qu’elle n’avait aucun effet sur les décès ou les maladies liés à l’alcool, n’impressionnera probablement personne à Bruxelles. L’agence Public Health Scotland indique également dans sa conclusion que les crimes non liés à l’alcool sont soupçonnés d’avoir été affectés par le prix minimum de l’alcool, car les gangs profitent de la baisse du prix de l’alcool pour vendre des boissons illicites.

En fait, permettez-moi de faire une prédiction audacieuse : non seulement l’Union européenne introduira un prix minimum pour l’alcool, mais elle l’augmentera aussi progressivement au fil du temps. Pourquoi ? Chaque fois qu’une étude montrera que la mesure ne fonctionne pas, un bureaucrate malin à Bruxelles conclura que le problème n’était pas l’inefficacité de la mesure, mais que les prix n’étaient tout simplement pas assez élevés.

En plus de la réglementation sur l’alcool qu’elle devrait dévoiler l’année prochaine, l’UE va publier des objectifs contraignants pour la réduction globale de la consommation d’alcool. Cela signifie que les États membres devront trouver des mesures supplémentaires pour réduire la consommation d’alcool, sous peine de se voir reprocher par la Commission européenne de ne pas en faire assez.

La France a été la reine des mauvaises idées à cet égard. Il pourrait s’agir d’interdire les happy hours, de restreindre les heures d’ouverture des bars, de relever l’âge limite de vente d’alcool, voire de créer des magasins vendant de l’alcool appartenant à l’Etat et contrôlés par lui, comme il en existe déjà en Europe du Nord.

Toutes ces mesures vont exciter les criminels de type Al Capone. Ce que nous faisons actuellement en Europe, c’est créer une quasi-prohibition de l’alcool, où les personnes à faibles revenus ne pourront plus acquérir de l’alcool légalement. Par conséquent, ils pourraient passer au système D et fabriquer leurs propres boissons alcoolisées, ou les obtenir par toutes sortes de moyens illégaux, avec tous les effets secondaires que cela peut entraîner.

Il semble que nous soyons condamnés à répéter les erreurs du passé en matière de réglementation du mode de vie. C’est si déprimant que… cela donnerait envie de boire.

Publicado originalmente aqui

A cerveja sem álcool deve ser tributada da mesma forma que a cerveja normal?

Beer is one of those products that gets heavily taxed however should that mean the tax should be equal between alcoholic and dealcoholized beer?

Listen to the interview aqui

Steuerwettbewerb und Verbraucherschutz

Staaten stehen in einer gewissen Konkurrenz zueinander. Zwar ist der Handel kein Nullsummenspiel und Handelskriege, Zöller und andere Beschränkungen daher kontraproduktiv. Dennoch lässt sich nicht leugnen, dass verschiedene Regulierungsmöglichkeiten zu besseren, oder schlechteren Ergebnissen führen. So ist derjenige Staat, der seinen Bürgern und Unternehmen weniger Steuern aufbürdet tendenziell wettbewerbsfähiger, als ein Staat mit hoher Besteuerung. Ein Staat, der das Eröffnen eines Unternehmens erleichtert, wird meistens auch mehr Selbständige haben, als ein Staat, der eine hohe bürokratische Barriere aufstellt. Nur in einer völlig freien globalen Marktwirtschaft würden diese regulatorischen Unterschiede verschwinden.
Diese Ausgangslage haben wir aber nicht. Die Beatles haben sich aufgelöst. Sebastian Vettel wird nicht mit Ferrari Weltmeister und Eltern lieben manchmal nicht alle ihre Kinder gleich stark. 


In dieser von Fehlern behafteten Welt stehen die Staaten durchaus im gegenseitigen Wettbewerb. Das führt zu solchen pathologischen Erscheinungen, wie Protektionismus.

Eine andere Art des Wettbewerbs konnte man vor nicht zu langer Zeit in zwei baltischen Staaten beobachten. So bemerkte man in Estland, dass durch die höheren Alkoholsteuern viele Bürger sich dazu entschieden Alkohol nicht im eigenen Land, sondern bei dem Nachbarn in Lettland zu kaufen. Dadurch entwickelte sich vor Allem in den Grenzgebieten reger Handel, Geschäfte wuchsen wie Waldpilze nach einem Schauer. Die dadurch von dem estnischen Staatshaushalt erlittenen Verluste brachten wie so häufig Wirkung und die Regierung entschied sich die Alkoholsteuern 2019 um 25% zu senken.

Das löste zunächst eine kleine diplomatische Krise aus. So zeigten sich die Letten zunächst bestürzt. Die beiden Staaten hatten sich eigentlich Jahre zuvor darauf geeinigt, dass Lettland die Alkoholsteuern erhöhen werde, was auch schrittweise geschah. Der Premierminister Lettlands beteuerte zunächst, dass er in keinen Alkoholkrieg gegen Estland ziehen wolle. Die mutige Handlung der Estländer zwang Lettland effektiv dazu seine Alkoholsteuern im Gegenzug zu senken. Das Ergebnis war eine Absenkung der Alkoholsteuern um 15%.

Dabei muss eine solche Steuersenkung nicht dazu führen, dass weniger eingenommen wird. 
Polen entschied sich 2002 dazu die Alkoholsteuern radikal um 30% zu senken, um die “grauen Zonen”  zu bekämpfen, in denen illegal und unkontrolliert Alkohol hergestellt wurde. Wegen der Steuersenkung verzeichnete der polnische Staatshaushalt erhebliche Einnahmen, und konnte eine seit Jahren anhaltende Tendenz umkehren. 2002 brachten die Steuern noch 3,87 Mld PLN (881 Mln €) ein, 2003 waren es bereits 4,09 Mld PLN (931 Mln €) und 2004 erfreute sich der polnische Staat über 4,56 Mld PLN (1 Mld €) . Ebenso konnten die Grauzonen bekämpft werden, in denen Alkohol unkontrolliert hergestellt wurde.
Leider lernte Polen nicht aus dieser positiven Erfahrung. Erst gestern, am 02.12.21 entschied der polnische Sejm über eine Erhöhung der Alkoholsteuern und Tabaksteuern. Man argumentierte mit der Sorge um die Volksgesundheit… Die gleiche Regierung führte eine Steuer für E-Zigarettenliquids ein, einer weniger schädlichen Alternative, die eine Preiserhöhung von mehreren Hundert Prozent bewirkte. Volksgesundheit also…

Die Beispiele zeigen zwei Lehren. Einerseits ist eine Steuersenkung nicht immer gleichbedeutend mit einem Verlust der finanziellen Mittel für den Staat. Andererseits ist sie ein geeignetes Werkzeug des internationalen Wettbewerbs, mit finanziellen und gesundheitlichen Vorteilen für den Verbraucher.

Damit ein solcher Wettbewerb entstehen kann, braucht es bestimmte Rahmenbedingungen. Im Falle von Steuern die auf bestimmte Güter erhoben werden ist diese Rahmenbedingung der freie Markt und Freizügigkeit. Beide Staaten sind Mitglieder der europäischen Union. Die oben beschriebene Situation konnte nur entstehen, weil es für die Esten möglich ist ohne größeren bürokratischen und finanziellen Aufwand nach Lettland zu reisen und dort Waren einzukaufen.


Das Prinzip ist aber auf viele Arten von Steuern anwendbar. So können Staaten und Regionen auch gegeneinander konkurrieren indem sie Lohn- und Einkommensteuern, Kapitalmarktsteuern, Grundsteuern und andere Abgaben kürzen. Dieses Prinzip sieht man auf dem europäischen Kontinent in dem Beispiel des schweizer Föderalismus. Dort konkurrieren Kantone gegeneinander u.a. mit der Steuerlast. So zahlt man in dem im Zentrum des Landes gelegenen Kanton Zug tendenziell weniger Steuern als in den westlichen Gebieten in unmittelbarer Nähe zu Frankreich.

Ein größeres Land mit einer föderalen Struktur die Steuerwettbewerb begünstigt sind die USA. So erheben gleich neun Staaten in den USA (Wyoming, Washington, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Nevada, Florida, Alaska) keine eigenen Einkommensteuern. Das ist ein nicht unerheblicher Unterschied zu dem Bundesstaat Kalifornien, das eine Steuer von 13,3% erhebt. Unterschiede ergeben sich auch in Details, wie der Progression. So erheben Staaten wie Illinois, North Carolina, oder Minnesota zwar durchaus Einkommensteuern, diese allerdings in Form einer “flat tax”, einer Liniensteuer.
Große Unterschiede gibt es auch bei Verkaufssteuern (sales tax) und anderen Abgaben.

Sowohl in den USA als auch in der Schweiz haben die Bürger somit die Wahl zwischen verschiedenen Modellen von Besteuerung und können mit ihrem Einkommen und den eigenen Füßen abstimmen, indem sie einen anderen Wohnort wählen.

Diesen Mechanismus kann man auch in der EU beobachten. Einen solchen Vorteil des europäischen Föderalismus gilt es zu wahren und zu verstärken. Anstatt Mindeststeuersätze einzuführen (die Beispielsweise bereits bei der Mehrwertsteuer gelten) sollte die Europäische Union den Wettbewerb vielmehr gutheißen. Vorteile würden sich nicht nur für den individuellen Steuerzahler in der EU ergeben, sondern für die gesamte Freihandelszone. 
Eine niedrigere Besteuerung, die durch den Wettbewerb erreicht werden könnte, würde die europäischen Unternehmen konkurrenzfähiger auf dem internationalen Markt machen. Die EU sollte im Zusammenhang von Steuern also weniger von Solidarität und mehr von Föderalismus und Dezentralisierung sprechen.

Ottawa deveria acabar com seu imposto sobre cerveja sem álcool

Antes da pandemia, durante um jogo do Blue Jays, minha cabeça virou quando um cliente do bar pediu uma cerveja sem álcool. No começo, pensei que isso poderia ser apenas uma nova moda hipster, mas não poderia estar mais errado. A cerveja sem álcool não é mais apenas para motoristas designados ou mulheres grávidas. É um mercado em constante crescimento com previsão vendas mundiais acima de $4 bilhões (EUA) até 2025. Embora eu possa não ser o público-alvo dessas novas bebidas, outros canadenses claramente são.

É aqui que entra a política tributária federal, porque, curiosamente, a cerveja sem álcool está sujeita a imposto de consumo impostos, embora menos do que se paga na cerveja normal. Apesar de praticamente não conter álcool e, portanto, não representar nenhum risco real para os consumidores além da ingestão calórica, a cerveja sem álcool é cobrada com um imposto especial de consumo de $2,82/hectolitro - um hectolitro sendo 100 litros. A aplicação de um imposto especial de consumo é um problema por várias razões.

O primeiro problema com o imposto especial de consumo para a cerveja sem álcool é que o vinho sem álcool e as bebidas espirituosas são isentos do imposto. Por alguma razão, o governo federal não trata igualmente todas as bebidas não alcoólicas. Remover o imposto especial de consumo para cerveja sem álcool simplesmente aplicaria a própria lógica do governo de forma consistente em todo o setor não alcoólico.

Além da consistência, a remoção do imposto sobre a cerveja ajudaria a reduzir os custos para os consumidores preocupados com a saúde, dando-lhes melhor acesso a produtos de risco reduzido. Isso provavelmente também ajudaria a expandir a produção doméstica dessas bebidas, já que o Canadá é único no tratamento de cerveja sem álcool. 

O imposto também coloca Ottawa em desvantagem com as províncias, que, como reguladoras de onde os produtos alcoólicos são vendidos dentro de suas fronteiras, já reconheceram que não há justificativa para tratar os produtos não alcoólicos tão estritamente quanto as bebidas alcoólicas padrão. É por isso que, de costa a costa, você pode comprar esses produtos fora do sistema de varejo de álcool de cada província em mercearias e lojas de conveniência, muitas vezes junto com água gaseificada e refrigerante. 

Finalmente, isentar a cerveja sem álcool do imposto federal seria consistente com os princípios da redução de danos, uma abordagem política que o governo Trudeau defendeu, embora seletivamente. Ao regulamentar e tributar produtos que possam apresentar algum risco ao consumidor, é importante que o legislador avalie qual é realmente esse risco. Para a cerveja sem álcool é quase zero, por isso não é apropriado que o governo a trate da mesma forma que a cerveja. Além do puritanismo residual, a principal justificativa para os impostos sobre bebidas alcoólicas é ajudar a cobrir quaisquer custos de saúde relacionados ao álcool que possam surgir. Mas qual é a carga de saúde relacionada ao álcool da cerveja sem álcool? Não há, por isso deveria ser isento.

No final do dia, os bebedores de cerveja do Canadá já pagam o suficiente em impostos - totalmente $676 milhões em impostos especiais de consumo apenas em 2020. E como é indexado à inflação, o imposto sobre o álcool aumenta a cada ano sem revisão, o que é uma das razões, além das margens provinciais, porque em média 47% do preço que você paga pela cerveja vai para o governo. Essa é uma quantia exorbitante que deve ser reduzida significativamente.

A remoção do imposto especial de consumo para cerveja sem álcool seria um pequeno primeiro passo para repensar qual é o nível apropriado de imposto no Canadá. Isso daria aos consumidores escolhas mais conscientes da saúde, a preços melhores, e faria isso de forma consistente com a própria lógica do governo para bebidas não alcoólicas.

Publicado originalmente aqui

Não há razão para brindar imposto federal sobre cerveja sem álcool

Across the board, we should expect better from Ottawa, and the tax on non-alcoholic beer is yet another example of where they’ve gotten it wrong.

Sin-taxes, across all sectors, are fairly excessive in Canada. At almost every turn the government sinks its tax teeth into the process of you purchasing the products you like. This is true for cannabis products, alcohol, tobacco, vaping, gas, and annoyingly so, non-alcoholic beer. Yes, non-alcoholic beer in Canada is not exempt from federal excise taxes.

You read that right. The federal government also extends its sin-tax regime for non-alcoholic beer, at a rate of $2.82/hectolitre.

The application of excise taxes for non-alcoholic beer is problematic for a variety of reasons. The first, and most glaring, is that it is hypocritical given that the federal government has exempted non-alcoholic wine and spirits from the excise tax. Why apply it for beer, but not wine and spirits? Obviously, a more consistent approach would be to simply exempt all non-alcoholic beverages from the excise tax, because the purpose of the sin tax is to recover alcohol-related healthcare costs. That said, there are no alcohol-related healthcare costs at all from non-alcoholic beer, which immediately shows the lunacy of sin-taxing these products.

In addition to correcting hypocrisy, removing the excise tax for non-alcoholic beer would put federal policy in line with how the provinces treat these products. Provincial regulators, including Alberta, don’t require non-alcoholic beverages to be sold at licensed alcohol retail outlets, because they’ve accepted the obvious that these products don’t have alcohol in them and thus shouldn’t be strictly regulated. That is why in Alberta these products are often sold alongside carbonated water and pop. Removing the excise tax would be the federal government following the lead of the provinces in treating non-alcoholic beer differently than beer, because they are in fact different.

On the industry side, the federal excise tax acts as a barrier for product development in Canada, mostly because other beer producing jurisdictions (US,EU,UK) don’t tax non-alcoholic beer. Because of this the domestic industry in those jurisdictions has flourished, offering consumers more choice and at better prices. Their sane tax policy, coupled with increased consumer demand, is in large part why the non-alcoholic beer market is expected to grow to over $4 bilhão by 2025. These drinks aren’t just for hipsters, designated drivers and pregnant women anymore.

Lastly, and most importantly, is how non-alcoholic beer is yet another example of new products reducing harm for consumers. And while I don’t personally enjoy these drinks, I can see why someone would still want to enjoy a beer with their friends, or at a bar, without the alcohol that comes along with it.

From a harm reduction perspective, it makes perfect sense to have different tax strategies for products that vary in risk. The Trudeau government, at times, has championed harm reduction for illegal drugs but appears to have a blind spot when it comes to legal substances. This is an uncomfortable trend from Ottawa that is perfectly exemplified by the excise tax on non-alcoholic beer. Ottawa has kept the excise tax system for non-smokable THC cannabis products, like edibles and beverages, despite the fact they are significantly less harmful. They’ve sought to ban vape flavours, despite the fact that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking, and flavours are an incredibly useful tool for adult smokers trying to quit.

Across the board, we should expect better from Ottawa, and the tax on non-alcoholic beer is yet another example of where they’ve gotten it wrong. Hopefully, come Budget 2022, they can correct this mistake and remove the excise tax from these products entirely.

Publicado originalmente aqui

Acabar com o monopólio de bebidas alcoólicas em Ontário seria vantajoso para todos

Rethinking the LCBO could save taxpayers a tremendous amount of money

Ontario is teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff. Under its previous Liberal government, the province became the most indebted sub-sovereign unit in the world. Unfortunately, poor policy-making and the COVID-19 pandemic have only worsened its situation. Ontario’s debt is now over $404 billion, which means each Ontarian’s share of that debt is a whopping $27,000.

As the pandemic ends, Ontario will need bold policy-making to dig itself out of the hole it’s in. One bold policy that would help is privatizing the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario), or at a minimum capping its expansion and ending its monopoly status.

Scrapping the LCBO and shifting to a private, preferably uncapped, retail model would benefit consumers by offering them more choice and convenience. Ontario currently has the worst alcohol retail density in Canada, mostly because the combination of a government monopoly (LCBO), with a government-sanctioned private monopoly (The Beer Store) has limited the scalability of retail access. As a result, Ontario has only one alcohol retail outlet for every 4,480 residents. In comparison, British Columbia has one store for every 2,741 residents, Alberta one for every 1,897 residents, and Quebec one store for every 1,047 residents. Ending the LCBO’s monopoly would help bring Ontario onto a par with other provinces.

More importantly, rethinking the LCBO could save taxpayers a tremendous amount of money. The LCBO’s operating costs are bloated. Based on its 2019 annual financial statement, the average sales, general and administrative (SG&A) cost per store is $1,515,000 per year. With 666 corporate stores, that is a considerable expense to taxpayers. Private alternatives, like high-inventory private retailers in Alberta, cost significantly less to operate. Based on Alcanna’s 2019 annual financial report, the average SG&A for a private outlet comparable to an LCBO, is just $676,000 per year. If we could snap our fingers right now and fully transition the LCBO out of the government’s operating model, taxpayers would save an astounding $559 million per year. If the Ford government is looking for low-hanging fiscal fruit, this is it.

Labour unions and other supporters of nationalized alcohol distribution would obviously have an issue with the complete elimination of the LCBO. They will argue that privatization would threaten the well-paying jobs of the thousands of Ontarians who work for the LCBO. This could be true, as it’s unlikely that private retailers would require their workers to be members of OPSEU, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which has negotiated wages well above the market rates for comparable jobs. That said, there is a compromise solution that both expands consumer choice, maintains those LCBO jobs, and saves taxpayers millions of dollars. It is to stop the LCBO from expanding its operations and let the private sector fill the void.

Each year, on average, the LCBO, makes a net addition of seven new stores in Ontario. If the province were to simply stop the LCBO’s expansion, and have the private sector fill the gap, taxpayers would cumulatively save $88 million after five years. At the 10-year mark that figure would be $323 million. And these savings are only the ongoing operational savings and don’t include the tens of millions of dollars the LCBO spends to acquire storefronts for expansion.

This compromise solution would allow the LCBO’s existing outlets to remain operational, while also allowing for more retail access and a hybrid model moving forward. On top of the cost savings, there might well be revenue gains. Hybrid and private retail models for alcohol sale (as in B.C. and Alberta) actually generate more alcohol tax revenue per capita, a further benefit for the public purse. Politically, this compromise solution is a no-brainer. Increasing access, fuelling private business opportunities, generating more revenue, and all the while maintaining current LCBO employment would be a win-win-win.

The Ford government has already laid the groundwork for such an approach. Buried in the licences and permits schedule in the 2019 budget, the province effectively cleared the way for a truly free and open alcohol market in Ontario. The bill estados that “A person may apply to the Registrar for a licence to operate a retail alcohol store, operate as a wholesaler, or deliver alcohol.”

Ontario has opened the door for a consumer-friendly retail model for alcohol that would finally end the LCBO’s monopoly. Full privatization would be best but if that is too great a stretch politically, a free-entry compromise would still benefit all Ontarians. The government has created the possibility of such a change. For the sake of consumers and taxpayers, it should now follow through.

Publicado originalmente aqui.

Faça com que seja hora de fechar o monopólio da cerveja em Ontário

The Beer Store is an institution built on a toxic mix of prohibition and cronyism

News broke this month that The Beer Store (TBS), Ontario’s monopoly beer-seller, is losing money and lots of it. According to its annual financial statement, TBS operated at a $50.7 million loss in 2020. While some of that can be chalked up to the pandemic decimating the demand for kegs, TBS has been in rough shape for some time. In fact, it hasn’t turned a profit since 2017, well before the pandemic upended the economy.

The Beer Store’s poor performance should lead Ontario consumers to ask the age-old question: why do we tolerate any entity having a virtual monopoly on the retail sale of beer? Even worse, why is its near-monopoly status protected by law?

For those who don’t know, which is aproximadamente 68 per cent of Ontarians, TBS is a privately owned, government-protected monopoly first established on the heels of Prohibition. Its original purpose in 1927 was to create strict access points for beer retail, appeasing prohibitionists by supposedly protecting society from the evils of alcohol consumption.

Though the prohibition mentality is long gone its disappearance still hasn’t resulted in the liberalization of where Ontarians can buy beer. Right now, Ontarians only have limited options: The Beer Store, the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario), on-site sales at breweries, and a select number of grocery stores, 450 to be exact. Because of these limited choices, Ontario has the lowest alcohol retail density in all of Canada. Now would be a perfect time to liberalize the retail market for beer, specifically by granting convenience stores and any grocery store that wants to entry to the retail space.

The Beer Store naturally will fight tooth and nail to preserve its protected status but its arguments are not convincing.

Its first defence is legal — that it is protected under the Master Framework Agreement (MFA), signed under the Wynne government, which isn’t set to expire until 2025. But it is not unknown in Canadian history for legislatures to re-write agreements. Re-writing contracts does have its downsides but in this case revoking the agreement would serve competition and consumer choice, two very good causes.

The Beer Store also defends its protection under the banner of preserving jobs, keeping prices low, collecting revenues for the province, and protecting Ontarians from poor health outcomes. All these claims are bogus.

On job losses, TBS president Ted Moroz claimed in 2019 that alcohol liberalization would put the jobs of its 7,000 employees at risk. And well it might: competition usually doesn’t help protected incumbents. But pesquisarfrom the Retail Council of Canada shows that expanding retail sales would actually create 9,500 new jobs in Ontario and boost GDP by $3.5 billion a year. Given Ontario’s financial position, any such boost is badly needed.

Publicado originalmente aqui.

Role para cima