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Pennsylvania: Should Liquor Sales Be Privatized, asks Pennsylvanians Concerned about Alcohol Problems

Posted on  | November 10, 2011   Bookmark and Share
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Source: PR Newswire

The following is a statement from Don H. Wert, Executive Director of Pennsylvanians Concerned about Alcohol Problems:

Recently Governor Thomas Corbett announced that an independent study reported that if the state were to sell off the state store system to private operators the state of Pennsylvania would realize an estimated one and half billion dollars. The governor and some legislators see this move as a way to get some quick cash for a state budget that is seriously under-funded. Sounds good, or does it? When we look under the surface of just getting quick cash we can see some serious concerns with this privatization of the liquor sales in Pennsylvania. Whenever we are about to completely change something it is always good to take a look at why the original system was put in to place.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board was formed by Gov. Gifford Pinchot in 1933 as the official state agency to control the sale of alcohol in Pennsylvania. Gov. Pinchot stated the purpose of the PLCB was to “discourage the purchase of alcoholic beverages by making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible.” Why did Gov. Pinchot make this statement? Because he understood that alcohol was a dangerous beverage that had the potential to cause much harm. Has alcohol now become less dangerous? Not at all! Alcohol is a poison and can kill when consumed in large quantities. (Amy Winehouse is a recent example) When any amount of consumption takes place the individual drinking the alcohol will begin to experience a loss of physical coordination and a decease in the ability to make good decisions.

Some people argue that it is a legal right for adults over the age of twenty one to consume alcoholic drinks. This is correct, but the fact still remains that alcohol is a dangerous drug when consumed in large quantities or used by young people under the age of twenty one. Consider the following facts. First, almost everyday our local newspapers contain news articles about some car accident involving alcohol, or a domestic dispute fueled by alcohol, or a rape or murder involving alcohol, or a report on underage drinking or binge drinking on a college campus. If you disagree with my comment then try reading your local newspaper on a daily basis and see if you can find many days when there is not some report involving alcohol! If you still disagree with me then go and talk with any state or local police officer and ask them how often alcohol is involved in their investigations. Secondly, teenage drivers are responsible for a disproportionate amount of car accidents. Statistically, one quarter or 25% of teen accidents are caused because of the use of alcohol. Alcohol use is the leading drug problem among youth in the United States. A third statistic is that DUIs or driving under the influence of alcohol are reaching an epidemic level. The Lancaster New Era, which is my local newspaper, recently reported that DUI cases are flooding county courtrooms. I quote from their article, “On an average day in Lancaster County, five people are charged with driving under the influence. Someone died here every other week last year, on average, in a DUI-related crash, according to police statistics.” The problems related to alcohol use are not decreasing but increasing.

Considering the facts, does it make sense to privatize the sale of alcohol in a time when alcohol problems are increasing dramatically? The answer is no! We still need close control over the selling of alcohol. Our current state store system is not perfect but it is better then allowing all types of commercial stores to sell alcohol. Rep. Mike Turzai, the PA House Majority Leader, speaking at a “talk back” town hall session in Lititz, Pa., said that he was working on legislation that would allow for the creation of at least some 1200 licenses to sell alcoholic beverages in our state. Currently we have about 600 such state stores. Does it make sense to double the amount of outlets considering the potential problems that such a move would make? No!


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