augusta free press news

Study: No health risks for private liquor sales

A new study from the Virginia Institute for Public Policy finds that privatizing Virginia’s ABC stores will have no effect on the number of alcohol-related health problems in the Commonwealth.

The study, “Impaired Judgment: The Failure of Control States to Reduce Alcohol-Related Problems,” coauthored by George Mason economics professor Don Boudreaux and Julia Williams of Regulatory Economics Group LLC, surveys health data from the 18 “control” states, which, like Virginia, maintain state monopolies over either the retailing or wholesaling of spirits, and the 32 “license” states and the District of Columbia where private retailers sell packaged spirits in competitive markets.

The authors state that these different approaches “offer a natural experiment” to test the claims of those who insist that government-spirits monopolies provide public health-benefits.

Among the reports key findings:

· On alcohol-related deaths: Government-monopoly control of spirits does not reduce citizens’ risks of dying from alcohol-related causes.

On binge drinking: Government monopolies do not protect against the menace of binge drinking.

· On drunk driving fatalities: “…it cannot be said with any confidence that a decrease or increase in such fatalities is attributed to whether a state is a control state or license state.”

· On beer and wine: Any impact that government monopolies might have on spirits consumption can easily be off-set by increased consumption in beer and wine – products that are readily available in control states.

· On reducing abusive drinking: Changing the amount of alcohol consumed by abusive drinkers cannot be done with the kinds of restrictive policies and high taxes that are the basis of the control-state system.

The authors conclude that any health benefits from state control of spirits are “illusory,” and “the plain fact seems to be that alcohol-related problems are unrelated to whether or not a state government prevents private, competitive retailers from selling packaged spirits to the general public.”

The full study may be accessed online:

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

augusta free press
augusta free press