Report: MD alcohol tax linked to gonorrhea decline

In 2011, Maryland hiked its alcohol tax by 50%, from 6% to 9% percent.

While it has hit drinkers in their bottom lines, a new study shows it’s having a positive impact when it comes to public health.

According to a new study released by the “Maryland Health Care For All Coalition” since the alcohol tax hike, the rates of gonorrhea in Maryland dropped by 24%.

It claims that in just a year-and-a-half after the increase 2,400 cases statewide were prevented with a contributing factor being a less intoxicated population.

It may sound like a bizarre connection but we’re told it’s rather simple.

“there’s no question that substance use with an impaired level of consciousness and impaired judgement leads to risky sexual behavior.” said Dr. James Cockey of the Wicomico County Health Dept.

The study used data provided by counties across Maryland. Researchers found that infections were more concentrated in what are called high risk areas or areas with people engaging in risky sexual behavior with multiple partners or people in a connected social group.

Dr. David Jernigan, of Johns Hopkins University tells 47 ABC, “This study looked at gonorrhea and chlamydia and found a big affect on gonorrhea and found no affect on chlamydia.”

The report states that chlamydia features more mild symptons compared to those of gonorrhea.

Which may explain why county health departments reported more cases of gonorrhea because those infected knew they had it as opposed to those who may not have known they had chlamydia.

“They’re very similar, there’s a lot of overlap. Chlamydia is much more common.” said Cockey.

As apart of the 2011 legislation that increased the tax some of the revenue it brings in are being used for state health initiatives like services for the developmentally disabled and the expansion of community-based services.

We’re told that recently, a similar study was conducted in Illinois. It apparently produced similar results.

Categories: Health, Local News, Maryland