The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Letters

February 13, 2013

Viewpoint: Alcohol regulations as relevant today as in past

Over the next few weeks state legislators will consider allowing statewide carry-out alcoholic beverage sales on Sunday. After the repeal of prohibition, liquor stores were created by the Indiana legislature to limit and control access to alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are enjoyed by many people; however, alcohol remains a dangerous substance, and the reasons for controlling it are as relevant today as when the laws were enacted. We all want to protect children and to reduce side effects such as drunken driving, alcoholism and domestic violence.

Our family has been in the liquor store business in Anderson for over 50 years, and we have always been very serious about selling alcohol responsibly. We have given back to our community with our tax dollars and charitable contributions.

We have worked with law enforcement to ensure that the city of Anderson is a safe place to live. In 50 years, we have only been cited by the state four times for selling to a minor.

Several years ago, the state of Indiana allowed pharmacies to move their alcohol from the closed-off pharmacy area to a more accessible area within the store. Because of this, many grocery stores decided to add a pharmacy so they could sell alcoholic beverages; and now alcohol is displayed everywhere by the big-box retailers.

You do not have to be 21 years old to enter a grocery or drug store, so minors have constant access to alcohol and have the ability to shoplift these beverages.

In her article “Sunday alcohol sales: Why Indiana can’t afford this convenience,” Nancy Beals, certified prevention professional, points to the study, “Underage Drinking in Indiana: The Facts”. In 2009, underage drinkers consumed 17.8 percent of all alcohol sold in the state.

This study also showed that 42 percent of middle school and high school students perceived that “one of the ways teens get alcohol is by stealing from retail stores”. They can easily shop-lift in convenience and grocery stores, but are not even allowed in liquor stores.

The lobbyists for the big-box retailers are saying that Indiana is the last state in the country to not allow the  off-premises sale of alcohol on Sunday. Each state sets its own laws concerning the control of alcohol, which is why it is hard to compare them.

Connecticut, which recently passed Sunday off-premises sales, only allows liquor to be sold in liquor stores and not in big-box stores. Connecticut also doesn’t allow beer to be sold in gas stations. Indiana is one of 12 states to not allow off-premises Sunday spirit sales.

Don’t be fooled by the “spin” that is put out by the drug and grocery lobbyists.

It has been estimated by those proposing the recent legislation that the state loses $10 million in sales tax revenue from people who drive to neighboring states to purchase alcohol on Sunday.

In 2006 Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, studied these issues. He concluded that allowing Sunday sales would not boost overall sales; there would only be a redistribution of the current sales. He also concluded there would be no effect on state revenue.

To say that liquor stores do not want competition is completely false! By state regulation, we can only sell 13 different commodities, compared to the drug and grocery stores that can sell food, drugs, produce and home goods. To enter our stores, a person must be 21 years old, compared to drug and grocery stores having no age requirement.

Even in the present situation, the drug and grocery stores have the competitive advantage.

Having been in the package liquor business for over 50 years, we believe that the more controlled environment for alcohol sales is best for preventing possession of alcohol by minors and reducing the social costs.

The bill which has been introduced to allow alcohol sales on Sunday is all about the profits of the big-box retailers. There would be no benefit in tax revenue to the state; only a benefit to the bottom line of the big-box retailers.

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