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Australian Doctors Want Everyone to Stop Drinking Box Wine

Doctors in Australia are hoping that the nation will tax the stuff so highly that no one will want to buy it anymore.

by Alex Swerdloff
Mar 28 2016, 7:00pm

Photo via Flickr user FoodMayhem.com

Box wine—also known as cask wine or "goon bags" in Australia—is an Australian invention. Created and patented by Thomas Angove, a winemaker from South Australia, the stuff is known for its convenient and inexpensive packaging, made up of a plastic bladder inside a corrugated box, outfitted with an airtight valve. Now increasingly popular in the US, this libation is the joy of those who like their wine cheap and plentiful, above all else.

Well, now doctors in Australia are hoping that the nation will tax the stuff so highly that no one will want to buy it anymore. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians says box wine is an abomination that has to go. According to The Daily Telegraph, the president of the physicians' organization, Nick Talley, says, "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." He estimates the cost of alcohol abuse in that country is 36 billion Australian dollars (about $27 billion US), and he believes much of the problem is due to low-cost wine.

"We are not talking about those who have a wine at night." Although the drinking age is 18 in Australia, underage drinking and binge drinking are both big problems there.

In Australia right now, wine is taxed according to its retail price—the higher the cost of the wine, the more tax the consumer pays. Value, rather than volume, is the rule.

The physicians' group is suggesting that the federal government in Australia change the applicable tax on box wine from the current Wine Equalization Tax to the tax that applies to low-strength beer. In Australia, low-strength beer is taxed based on volume. The change in the tax on goon bags would help the government raise $1.3 billion and, the physicians believe, cut the appeal of the cheap wine.

Should the change be put in place, goon bags—that singular Australian invention—may become a thing of the past in that country. Aussies looking for a cheap buzz will have to hit up Trader Joe's in the US—or 95-year-old Maggie Griffin, who may or may not be willing to share some of hers.