Alcoholism & Addiction

Privately Owned Liquor Stores And Alcohol-Related Deaths

In 2002, British Columbia began to privatize sales of alcohol. As a result, the number of privately-owned liquor stores increased quickly in their province. A new study reports that this may be why there was an increase in alcohol-related deaths, according to a recent Reuters’ article.

Several Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions have restricted alcohol sales to only stores run by the government, as researchers report these findings for public health concerns. Researchers studied 89 local areas in British Columbia and found there was a 40 percent increase in numbers of private alcohol retailers from 2003 to 2008.

The liters of alcohol sold in those stores each year rose up to 84 percent and government stores declined slightly. For each private store per 1,000 people in the community, alcohol-related local deaths increased by 27.5 percent.

These findings don’t prove the culprit is necessarily privatization but there is a strong correlation between the rise in private retailers and such alcohol-related deaths, said Tim Stockwell, lead researcher at the University of Victoria in B.C. Stockwell says the provinces should think long and hard before heading further down the road of privatizing alcohol sales.

The findings also show relevance here in the United States where some states already control liquor sales, with the exception of beer and wine. In Virginia, the study already hit the news and the governor there is promoting a plan to privatize their state’s government-owned liquor stores.

These findings were based on the governmental date from 89 local "health" areas in British Columbia. The study concluded that in those communities an average of eight in every 10,000 people died because of an alcohol-related reason in the years between 2003 and 2008.

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