Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A message for our legislators

Clean up the alcohol privatization mess and allocate funding to prevent substance abuse and support youth!

Alcohol privatization is creating more harm than expected: I-1183, the initiative that privatized the sale of hard alcohol, may have sounded simple, but the actual initiative is 60 pages long and mandates sweeping changes to liquor sales, wine sales, regulatory enforcement and advertising. I-1183 makes Washington the most deregulated state in the nation and implementing it is turning out to be quite costly.

Prevention funding has been cut: Meanwhile, since 2005, funding for substance abuse prevention was reduced by more than 70% -- community-based prevention services (Community Mobilization) by 73% and school-based prevention/intervention services (Student Assistance Program) by78%! 

Stop the harm BEFORE more is created! To restore both programs to 2005 levels of funding, $15Million per year is needed. Funding for substance abuse prevention is necessary BEFORE alcohol and other drugs become more accessible to our children and youth…

• BEFORE more bills are passed that normalize the use of alcohol in everyday life;

• BEFORE alcohol is fully privatized;

• BEFORE marijuana is legalized.

This can be done! An I-1183 clean up bill should:

• Designate alcohol revenue for a balanced approach to prevention, treatment, and enforcement by the Liquor Control Board.

• Add a standard sales tax on top of liquor taxes to generate revenue for cities.

• Establish a statewide cap on alcohol outlet density, as numerous studies across the nation have shown that an increase in outlet density – how many stores are in a certain area -- can lead to increased alcohol-related public health problems.

• Raise licensing fees by 30%, generating $6M for Community Mobilization and prevention and intervention services in schools. A 30% increase would result in a typical grocery store paying $195 per year.

• Increase the long-stagnant beer tax rate.

Enough is enough! It’s time to stop the erosion of a system that protects our children and youth and provides communities and schools the resources they need!

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