Private Sales Don’t Increase Drinking

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Regarding “Police Concerned Over Privatizing Liquor Stores”: The fear of law enforcement agents that privatizing liquor sales will result in increased underage drinking, crime, and alcohol-related traffic accidents is understandable, but unfounded based on what we’ve seen in other localities that have privatized liquor sales.

When Iowa privatized sales in the late 1980s retail operations did almost double, with tax revenue increasing by $125 million. Yet, underage drinking and alcohol-related fatalities remained steady in the following decades.

Similarly, after Alberta, Canada privatized alcohol sales in 1993, it saw tax revenue increase, giving it the highest dollars raised per capita compared with the other western provinces, which all have government-controlled alcohol sales. As in Iowa, Alberta’s privatization didn’t result in increased crime and abuse. In fact, in the decade following privatization Alberta’s rate of alcohol-impaired driving accidents decreased. Though rates fell throughout Canada, Alberta’s dip was significantly greater than all the other provinces.

So, it seems that adults, when given the opportunity, can take personal responsibility for their alcohol consumption. Privatization doesn’t necessarily equate to increased abuse. More than that, it isn’t the government’s job, nor its right, to be in the business of selling alcohol.

Michelle Minton, Director of Insurance Studies, The Competitive Enterprise Institute.