Thursday, March 1, 2012

Alcohol regulation in the news

As the state works to implement I-1183, the initiative that privatizes liquor sales and further deregulates alcohol in general, the impacts of deregulation are being exposed.

For an overview of how I-1183 is playing out in Seattle, check out Getting liquored up which appears in Seattle City Living.  The article questions promises made by the proponents of deregulation such as lower liquor prices and more selection. 

Who wants to sell booze? appeared in yesterday's PI and lists the many stores that are applying for licenses to sell hard alcohol.  Here's an excerpt:

Of the 1,400 stores expected to sell liquor under Initiative 1183, more than 850 have applied for one of the state’s new retail spirits licenses.

Most of the requests are from big-box chains you’d expect to sell under the measure, which killed the state’s Prohibition-era liquor system. But there’s a few surprises in who wants in on the booze business.

Approved by voters last November, the measure allows stores at least 10,000 square feet to sell vodka, gin and other spirits. There’s an exception for smaller stores, if no other store sells liquor in its “trade area.” The state still needs to define that term.

Meanwhile, HealthDay reports: Support for tougher liquor laws rises when booze, crime linked.  The article states: It is estimated that drinking is involved in nearly one-third of deaths from accidents and violent crime. Most news reports of such cases, however, make no mention of alcohol, according to the authors of the study, published in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Then there is the CNN story, Studies cite link between booze sales, inner-city violence that reports: "Taking into account other factors known to contribute to youth homicide rates – such as poverty, drugs, availability of guns and gangs – the researchers found that higher densities of liquor stores, providing easy access to alcoholic beverages, contributed significantly to higher youth homicide rates . . ."  This echos what prevention advocates have been saying all along, that higher rates of alcohol availability is bad for public health.

Not to mention that the World Health Organization is now pushing for stronger alcohol regulations worldwide

Finally, a Seattle Times article about how craft distilleries may be harmed by I-1183 reports: Joe Gilliam, president of the Northwest Grocery Association, which represents Costco and others, met recently with Idaho's governor and other officials to discuss privatizing its liquor system. 

My question is: who is the prevention community's Joe Gilliam?  Those of us advocating for policies that prevent underage drinking, such as tough regulations, have a steep path ahead of us considering the money and power wielded by the alcohol industry. 

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