It makes sense that government control of liquor isn’t related to public safety outcomes

In previous posts here and in my last research brief I’ve highlighted a research finding that might seem wrong at first glance. Namely, that alcohol-based social and public-health problems don’t depend upon whether the government distributes and sells liquor instead of private enterprises.

Today, I’d like to point out why that makes sense.

  • Alcohol-based social and public-health problems stem are not specific to one form of alcoholic beverage (i.e., liquor).
  • North Carolinians have on-premise as well as off-premise drinking access to beer, wine, and liquor-by-the-drink.
  • They have this drinking access at an enormously wide range of private ventures: taverns, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, specialty shops, even pharmacies and other places.
  • They have this wide range of access almost all the time, all week long (even on Sundays), up till 2 a.m.

  • For consumers, what the government controls under the ABC system is the purchase of bottles of liquor
  • Those bottles are for off-premise consumption
  • Those ABC stores are kept strictly limited (a government monopoly wants monopoly prices to maximize revenue)
  • Those ABC stores are open only Mondays–Saturdays, and only till 9 p.m.

Considering all that, you can see why it is highly unlikely this limited subset of alcohol beverage retail sales in the state is the linchpin holding much worse alcohol-based social and public-health problems at bay.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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