Thursday, August 18, 2011

Liquor privatization: public health costs

While the Seattle Times "cheers Initiative 1183" because it would generate additional revenue for state and local governments, the Washington State Budget & Policy Center questions whether the additional revenue would offset costs associated with increased public health, safety, and economic implications. 

In a recent post to their Schmudget blog, the Budget & Policy Center states that the Washington State Office of Financial Management's (OFM) analysis "does not account for future costs associated with greater consumption of hard liquor.  They estimate that hard liquor sales (consumption) would increase by about five percent under I-1183.  However, a 2010 report from the State Auditor's Office estimated that consumption of hard liquor could increase by as much as 15 percent under a privatized liquor system similar to that proposed by I-1183.  Either way, our state could face increased public health and safety costs under the initiative -- due to higher rates of drunk driving and other alcohol-related crimes." 

An increase in underage drinking is one of those public health and safety costs.  Increased availability of alcohol through stores means increased problems with underage drinking, according to many research articles (which may be found in the ADAI Library Resource Brief about Privatization of Alcohol Sales, page 4).

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