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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 09/21/2010

California group says Virginia ABC effort driven by alcohol industry

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

California-based Marin Institute, which describes itself as a watchdog of the alcohol industry, is out with a new report urging states that control the sale of liquor not to dismantle their spirits regulations.

The group's report highlights efforts to privatize state-run liquor monopolies in Virginia and Washington state and asserts efforts to deregulate are being pushed by the alcohol industry, in an effort to boost profits.

The Marin Institute cites a series of studies that show liquor consumption rose in states and other countries after privatization of portions of their industry. They also point to studies that show other alcohol related harms, like youth and binge drinking, rose with privatization.

As we've indicated before, there is conflicting scientific research in this area--other studies show that private state and states that control the sale of alcohol have similar numbers of alcohol-related problems.

The Institute calls on politicians to "stop using alcohol regulation as a bully pulpit for calling for smaller government; alcohol is regulated because it is potentially harmful." They also call on public health officials, long concerned largely with drunk driving, to more forcefully defend governmental regulation of the sale of alcohol.

While the California group may not sway votes in the Virginia legislature, there's not a bad chance it will be used as talking points by Democrats and others who oppose Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) proposal to privatize Virginia's ABC system. You can read the full report here.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | September 21, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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There are multiple peer-reviewed studies and literature reviews published in scientific journals regarding the strong connections between privatizing state-controlled alcohol sales and: increased sales, increased consumption, increased alcohol outlet density, and increases in alcohol-related harm such as deaths, injuries and violence. See examples of Norstrom et al (2010), Stockwell et al (2009), Campbell et al (2009), Anderson et al (2009), Miller et al (2006), Her et al (1999 and 1998), Wagenaar (1995), Holder et al (1993 and 1990).

For reports released by public health-oriented organizations, see examples of Flanagan (2003) and Kerr (2009).

The 2 reports commonly mentioned by privatization supporters, released by the Commonwealth Foundation (2009) and the Virginia Institute for Public Policy (2010), were not published in scientific journals.

Posted by: sarahmart | September 21, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Increasing Venues for Alcohol from 332 to 1000 and taxing restaurants and bars to fund roads and construction is wrong. You raise taxes on Gasoline to fund roads and transportation. What a Beavis and Butthead McDonnell and Cuccinelli have proven to be.

Virginia may add to fees on alcohol
“Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), scrambling to make ends meet in his plan to privatize Virginia's 332 state-run liquor stores, is considering adding a fee on alcoholic drinks sold in restaurants and bars to help make up the $250 million in annual taxes and profits that state stores currently generate”

McDonnell is the only governor I know who can take a $230~$250 million/year in revenue stream because of Virginia’s ABC stores bulk purchasing power “in Virginia, where whiskey and every other kind of liquor is sold in state-run stores, more than $13 of the retail price goes to the state.“; and turn it from a $2.5 Billion Plus in 10 years, to a negative within one year.

A liquor store on every corner will fill the streets with DUIs and violence and the jails with the unfortunate drunks of McDonnell’s lazy and misplaced policies. Private prisons and alcohol abuse will get a boon while worker productivity, real estate values, and society peace will go down as Jack Daniels and Jim Beam in every grocery and convenience store make their marks.

Posted by: Airborne82 | September 21, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

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