US becomes less uptight about booze sales
The country is rapidly reversing laws restricting the purchase of alcohol. 'The last vestiges of Prohibition are going away,' says one observer.
In fact, the nation may now be "wetter" than ever.
An annual report released Tuesday by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) notes that the country is rapidly reversing laws imposing restrictions on the sale of alcohol, particularly on Sundays. Indeed, since 2002, 16 states have approved Sunday sales, bringing the total to 39, according to the organization.
Additionally, more states are permitting in-store tastings of spirits -- up to 44 as of 2013, the group says. And the restriction on alcohol sales on Election Day -- a practice that dates back to an era when saloons often doubled as polling stations, is almost a complete relic. Last year, Kentucky became the 49th state to reverse the Election Day ban, leaving South Carolina as the final holdout.
"The last vestiges of Prohibition are going away," says DISCUS chief executive Peter H. Cressy.
The group says the reversing of bans is proving to be a key factor behind the growth of the booze biz. Spirits sales (as measured at the supplier level) increased by 4.4 percent in 2013 to $22.2 billion.
Of course, other factors contribute to the sales trend, including the surging popularity of American whiskey, especially bourbon (a category that grew by 10.2 percent to $2.4 billion in 2013, according to the report). Additionally, spirits are benefiting from a sales decline in other alcoholic beverages, especially beer.
Still, the changes in public policy -- and just as important, public attitude -- cannot be overlooked, the group says. And it's a trend that’s likely to continue into 2014, with more state laws up for debate, including those allowing sales of alcohol in grocery stores.
State legislators say the reason they're taking a new tact is simply because the times have changed.
"The blue laws are kind of outdated. Sunday is not really the Sabbath it used to be," says former Georgia State Rep. Roger Williams, who backed an effort to let his state's voters decide if they wanted to do away with Sunday sales bans. (And in 2011, voters in more than 100 cities and counties in Georgia approved Sunday sales.)
Another reason why states are joining the booze bandwagon: Additional liquor sales equal additional tax revenue. A separate DISCUS study found that in Minnesota, where a Sunday ban is still in place, a change in policy could translate into as much as $15 million in extra taxes collected. The state is considering such a policy reversal this year.
Still, faith-based groups have often opposed changes in the laws governing alcohol sales, saying it's a matter of religious principle. Others argue that changes could result in more drunk driving-related accidents and fatalities. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a nationwide advocacy group, takes no official position on blue laws, but says that sales of alcohol must be carefully monitored on any day of the week.
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Any state that is using the reason for not selling booze on Sunday because of religious views is in violation of the constitution. If you don't want to buy or drink it, on Sunday or any other day, then don't! I'm not attacking religion or anything like and honestly not being able to buy on Sunday isn't that big of a deal but I fully support the constitution and per its interpretation using a religious reason to ban the sale is wrong. So it does need to be changed or if they still want to ban it come up with another reason.
I think its time
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