SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — In an enthusiastic display of solidarity, 200 people rallied on the steps of San Francisco City Hall yesterday in support of a groundbreaking “Charge for Harm” alcohol-related fee ordinance.
The diverse constituency included twenty leaders of prominent local organizations, government agencies, and coalitions representing labor, firefighters, health care, treatment, prevention, faith, education, seniors, youth, and community development. They joined San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos, author of the measure, in expressing steadfast determination to hold the alcohol industry accountable for a portion of San Franciscos alcohol-related harm. The proposed ordinance is the first to assess alcohol wholesalers and distributors a fee to mitigate alcohol-related costs at the local level.
A recent “nexus” study commissioned by the San Francisco Controllers office found more than $17 million in costs to City-funded services such as treatment, prevention, medical transport, and hospitalization for alcohol-related illness. “By recapturing City-funded costs, this fee sets a new benchmark for San Franciscos commitment to maintain services that ensure a safe and healthy environment for all city residents and visitors,” stated Supervisor Avalos.
A three-hour Budget and Finance Committee hearing followed the rally with various city departments reporting. Mitch Katz, M.D., director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, explained that one-third of all San Francisco General Hospital patients are there for alcohol-related causes. The City Controllers economic impact analysis revealed that the net job effect was zero because any potential losses in private sector jobs would be offset by a gain in City jobs to help those impacted by alcohol.
One hundred witnesses provided testimony both pro and con. San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White commended Supervisor Avalos, and co-sponsors Ross Mirkarimi and Sophie Maxwell for promoting innovative legislation to ensure funding for emergency medical response and transport.
Michele Simon, JD, MPH, research and policy director at the alcohol industry watchdog Marin Institute stated, “It is time for this profitable industry to be held accountable for its fair share of the tremendous harm alcohol products cause.” She added, “And from a public health perspective, creating a dedicated revenue stream to support alcohol-related harm mitigation is the right thing to do.”
The Budget and Finance Committee will vote on Monday, August 9, 2010, to approve the fee ordinance with amendments. A full Board of Supervisors vote is expected September 7, 2010.
Michael Scippa 415/548-0492
Jorge Castillo 213/840-3336
SOURCE Charge for Harm Alliance