July 26, 2005

German tax reduces youth alcopop consumption

BERLIN (Reuters) - Consumption of "alcopops" by German
young people has almost halved since the imposition of a
special tax on the fizzy alcoholic drinks last year, a German
government drug commission said on Tuesday.

A report published by the commission showed the percentage
of youths aged 12 to 17 who drink alcopops - typically a
mixture of sweet soft drinks and spirits - once a month dropped
to 16 percent from 28 percent since last August.

One third of the surveyed teenagers who consumed alcopops
last year had since quit.

The commission also reported that teenagers cited the tax,
which added 80-90 cents to the price of a bottle, as the main
reason why they cut back or stopped consumption of alcopops.

The government imposed the special tax in August 2004 to
deter youth consumption of alcopops after it determined that
the popularity of the drinks was encouraging alcoholism among

"What is especially pleasing is that there was no
substitution with other alcoholic drinks," said government drug
commissioner Marion Caspers-Merk.

"We have reached our goal of better protecting children and
teenagers from the dangers of alcoholism."

Drinks affected by the tax included alcopops like Smirnoff
Ice, made by the world's biggest spirits group Diageo and
Bacardi Breezer, made by privately owned Bacardi.