By Jennifer Donelan
January 13, 2011

Your drink of choice will get more expensive if a proposed alcohol tax increase is passed in Maryland.

The nonprofit group Maryland Health Care for All Coalition is calling for a new law that would increase taxes on beer, wine and liquor at bars. This could mean a 15 to 20 cent jump in drink prices.

The tax could bring in $215 million in new revenue for the state.

Researchers at John Hopkins School of Public Health studied more than 100 reports on the impact of driving up the price of cocktails in various states and countries. Researchers say evidence shows that when a tax is increased, alcohol consumption goes down.

Proponents of the law argue that less drinking due to pricier drinks could save 33 lives a year in alcohol-related deaths. It could also reduce alcohol dependency by 13,000 cases.

But some say a slight tax increase isn’t enough to change people’s drinking habits. And some businesses say they’ll take the hit from any tax increase.

“Honestly of the people who come out to bars, I don’t it’ll really slow them down,” said bar patron Ivonne Kalinski.

Managers at Mussel Bar in Bethesda say they would avoid passing the proposed tax onto customers.

“The restaurants … are gonna try to absorb the cost to project a better value to our customer so they might not even feel it,” said co-manager Ramon Navaez.

Last modified: January 17, 2011