Wagenaar and his colleagues identified 50 papers published over the last 40 years that looked at how changes in alcohol prices affect health outcomes. These studies were mainly conducted in the United States, Canada and Scandinavia.
Their analysis showed that, on average, a doubling of the alcohol tax was associated with a 35 percent decrease in alcohol-related mortality (such as death from liver disease), an 11 percent decrease in deaths from traffic accidents, a 6 percent decrease in sexually transmitted diseases, a 2 percent decrease in violence and a 1.4 percent reduction in crime [Rachel Rettner, "A Hike in the Price of Booze Could Make Us All Healthier," LiveScience.com, 2010.09.24].
Wagenaar says, "The strength of these findings suggests that tax increases may be the most effective way we have to prevent excessive drinking—and also have drinkers pay more of their fair share for the damages caused and costs incurred."
Plug the South Dakota budget hole; make South Dakota's drinkers pay a fairer share of the cost of their irresponsibility; reduce death, disease, and destruction—sounds like a good plan from every direction.
Update 2010.09.28: Then again, my teetoalling may be shortening my life expectancy. Cheers!