The Four Pillars

Worried that your love of drink is going to shave a few years off your life?  Perhaps you’ve imbibed a little too much over the years; you’re thinking, sooner or later, it’s going to catch up with me.  You enjoy yourself, sure, and you’re pretty easy going about things overall.  You tell your doctor – I’m a moderate drinker.

As it turns out, moderate drinking is a key element to living a long life.  Michel Fenster, an interventional cardiologist and professional chef, recently wrote a short essay at The Atlantic describing The Four Pillars as related to a recent CDC study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

“The four pillars of a healthy lifestyle include never smoking, healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, and physical activity. Each positive lifestyle choice was associated with a mortality reduction and the most powerful effect was the synergistic action of all four together. Those who engaged in all four activities were 63 percent less likely to die.”

Working from this assumption – that moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial to one’s health – Fenster asks an important question: why the “sin tax” on alcohol?  “The taxes levied on alcohol are generally categorized as a “sin” tax. In the United States, the generally recognized sin taxes are applied to tobacco, gambling, and alcohol. The purposes of sin taxes are generally twofold: to raise revenues and to decrease the utilization of a particular product or activity.”

Yet, if moderate drinking is considered a healthy activity alongside the other three pillars, why would it be discouraged by a sin tax?  Ending this tax on alcohol, which in moderation actually benefits one’s health, “could be viewed as an economic stimulus, much like the Bush-era tax cuts and payroll tax breaks currently in effect to stimulate more spending.”

Maybe moderate drinking shouldn’t be thought of as sinful after all.  Perhaps a glass or two of wine – a libation Fenster regards as “an indispensible culinary companion” – is just what the doctor ordered.  Or as the doctor himself suggests, “Perhaps the elixir for what ails us is a cocktail of tax reduction/elimination and, well, a cocktail.”

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Published in: on November 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 Comments

  1. This is great! So happy to know that science (drinking is healthy!) and the church (drinking is sinful) are still going at it! By the way, where do I sign the tax reduction/elimination petition 😉

    • Ha ha, if I’m able to track it down, I’ll let you know! Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy to reduces unnecessary taxes? If only…

  2. I’ll drink to that!

    • And I’ll have two!

      • Of this I have no doubt! 😉


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