From Idaho to Mississippi to Virginia to Vermont, several states that operate alcohol retail stores or wholesale distributors (or both) are considering privatizing these operations.
The reason is the need for revenue.
But Schmidt's organization, which represents state-operated alcohol distributors, opposes privatization. The NABCA insists that privatized distributors will cause greater health and social problems, such as more drunk-driving fatalities.
The NABCA isn't the only opponent of privatization.
If it's true that privatizing alcohol-distribution operations will cause greater health and social problems, then states shouldn't be blinded by their desperation for revenue to go this route. If these worries are baseless, however, then privatization is a win-win: State governments get more revenue and consumers get more convenient and less-costly access to the alcoholic beverages of their choice.
So what are the facts?
Consider first the most comprehensive, and ultimately most meaningful, statistic on this front: annual total alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 persons.
In control states, for the years 2001-2005, an average of 33.79 persons per 100,000 population died each year from alcohol-related causes. In license states this figure is 34.64. The figure for the U.S. as a whole is 34.34.
Clearly, states that directly run alcohol-distribution operations suffer as many alcohol-related deaths as do states that do not run any such operations.
What about more narrowly defined alcohol-related problems, such as binge drinking? (Binge drinking is defined, rather vaguely, by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse as the consumption of five or more drinks for a male, or four or more drinks for a female, during a single "occasion.") Even here, the data lend no support to those who assert that liberalizing alcohol distribution will cause more problems.
What about drunk-driving fatalities? Here, too, there is no difference between control states and license states.
These findings aren't surprising given that per-capita alcohol consumption in control states is statistically no different than it is in license states.
In other words, the data suggests that if a state shifts from being a control state to a license state (or vice-versa), that switch will not affect the amount of alcohol consumed, on average, per person in that state.
The data summarized here speak loudly that privatization of state alcohol-distribution operations will not result in the health and social problems that some people fear.