Friday, July 8, 2011

Liquor Privatization: Different Year, Same Bad Idea

Protect Our Communities, a group of business, labor, community members and substance abuse prevention advocates, announced today that it will oppose an initiative to dramatically expand state liquor sales.

Backers of Initiative 1183 funded a paid-signature drive and turned in petitions today. I-1183 is similar to two measures to privatize state liquor sales that failed last November. I-1105 was rejected by 63 percent of voters; I-1100 was tossed out by 53 percent.

“There is no grassroots groundswell for liquor privatization in the state,” said Jim Cooper, president of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention. “What part of ‘No!’ doesn’t Costco understand? The fundamentals haven’t changed.”

In urban areas, I-1183 would allow liquor sales in retail establishments over 10,000 square-feet, hurting smaller neighborhood grocery stores. In rural and suburban areas, convenience stores and mini-marts would be allowed to sell liquor.

In February, the federal Centers for Disease Control’s Task Force on Community Preventive Services recommended against further privatization of alcohol sales “based on strong evidence that privatization results in increased per capita alcohol consumption, a well-established proxy for excessive consumption.”

"Privatization may be associated with increased alcohol advertising, increases in the number of brands sold, and more lax enforcement of sales regulations, including enforcement of the minimum legal drinking age. In contrast, privatization also has generally been associated with an increase in the price of privatized beverages, which may be expected to lead to a decrease in consumption."

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