PM decries alcoholism as he pushes for excise tax hike

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote a commentary decrying alcoholism, as government pushes for tobacco and alcohol tax increase.

“When I read that everyday as many as three millions so called “monkeys” [small, 100 ml bottles of vodka - Poland In] are sold, including one million before noon, I am very worried. Alcohol is for people, but we should all use it in moderation,” wrote Prime Minister in a commentary for “Super Express” daily.

The cabinet has recently approved a draft of a bill that would introduce changes to the excise tax law. The tax on tobacco products and alcohol would be increased by 10 percent.

“Alcoholism is a serious social problem. It affects people in every corner of the country, from every social group, both men and women. We have to counter it together. We can’t pretend that the problem doesn’t exist,” continued Mr Morawiecki.

According to the Lux Veritas Foundation, there are between 600,000 and 800,000 people addicted to alcohol in Poland.

“We could say what libertarians say ‘to a willing person, injury is not done’, but alcoholism is one of illnesses, civilisational illness, with which a responsible state has to fight,” continues the Prime Minister.

The tax increase is expected to bring additional PLN 1.7 bn (EUR 400 mln) annually, according to the draft itself.

“We’re not after additional government revenue, because the revenue from the excise on alcohol and tobacco turns into nothing. The National Health Fund spends much more on treating lung cancer and people abusing alcohol,” wrote Mr Morawiecki.

The planned budget of the National Health Fund, Polish public healthcare provider, for 2019 is PLN 88.4 bn (EUR 20.7 bn). The exact costs of treating the consequences of alcohol and tobacco use is hard to calculate. In 2017, excise tax on tobacco alone brought in PLN 18.8 bn (EUR 4.4 bn).