'This Is Not About Stopping People Drinking Wine, This Is About Taxing Cheap Alcohol': Physician

27/03/2016 1:20 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Closeup of four red wine bottles in a wooden case.

A peak medical body wants to see big increases in taxes on cask wine because of the harm 'goon bags' are causing to young Australian drinkers.

The Royal College of Australian Physicians (RACP) is pressing the federal government to overhaul the way wine is taxed so that it is based on the volume of alcohol and not the value, New Corp Australia reports.

The proposed change would bring wine into line with how low-strength beer is taxed.

“This is not about stopping people drinking wine, this is about taxing cheap alcohol, which is abused by young people and those who already have problems,” RACP President Professor Nick Talley said.

The college has reportedly made a submission to the government on the issue and believes the change would raise about $1.3 billion.

The call from doctors comes after modelling commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) earlier this month showed a move to a volumetric tax could lead to a surge in the price of cask wine of up to 235 percent.

FARE's report was based on a volumetric tax that levels an excise of $56.46 per litre of alcohol, with the first 1.15 percent to be excise-free.

Public health advocates back a move to volumetric taxation, with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee, the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol and the Public Health Association of Australia all in favour of a change.

However, Hunter Valley Wine Association president Bruce Tyrrell said RACP's proposal would unfairly impact low income drinkers.

"It will make cask (wine) more expensive and it will make a bottle of Grange Hermitage or a smiliar one cheaper," he told Macquarie Radio.

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