Distilled Spirits Council Blasts Bogus Univ. of Florida Study Claiming Alcohol Tax Hikes Decrease Gonorrhea
The Distilled Spirits Council today blasted a University of Florida study, which claimed that gonorrhea rates in Maryland decreased as a result of 2011 alcohol sales tax hike in the state, calling it “intellectually dishonest.”
According to the press release for the study published yesterday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, “In Maryland, the tax increase resulted in 2,400 fewer statewide cases of gonorrhea during the 18 months after the tax increase went into effect.”
Distilled Spirits Council Chief Economist David Ozgo said, “If the study authors’ theory were true, one would expect to see rates of all sexually transmitted infections decline, which clearly was not the case. In fact, syphilis rates skyrocketed at the same time in Maryland following the tax increase.”
Ozgo analyzed the same CDC data used by lead study author Stephanie Staras, PhD. He noted that the same year the researchers state that the tax increase caused a decline in gonorrhea rates, the rates of syphilis skyrocketed 26% and chlamydia increased nearly 4%.
“These statistics show the intellectual dishonesty of this study and the ludicrous nature of these claims,” concluded Ozgo.
Further Ozgo pointed out that nearby states in the region, Delaware and Virginia, with no tax increases, showed similar declines in gonorrhea rates the year the Maryland alcohol tax hike went into effect, further undercutting the researchers’ hypothesis.
“This is not the first time these University of Florida researchers cherry-picked the data to fit their preconceived hypothesis,” said Ozgo. “This is advocacy-driven research plain and simple.”
Earlier this year, Staras and her colleagues published a study claiming that alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Illinois were reduced by 26% following a state alcohol excise tax increase — which added less than ½ cent on the price of most drinks. When the Illinois data was analyzed, it was revealed that alcohol-related traffic fatalities were already declining and actually declined faster before the tax was increased. Additionally, had the authors simply extended their analysis period, any statistical effects would have disappeared, Ozgo concluded.