Americans are not looking for additional convenience, lower prices or more places to shop when it comes to alcohol regulation. Instead, they want a focus on public safety and better law enforcement. Those are some of the key messages from a recent national poll, commissioned by the Center for Alcohol Policy (CAP).
Why? First, the public is very supportive of alcohol regulation understanding that alcohol is not an ordinary commodity and that reducing regulations could make problems worse. Sixty-three percent said they thought alcohol regulations are “about right” in their state; only 15% said they are too restrictive and 9% said they are too lenient. Second, a sizeable portion of the public has been personally harmed by alcohol. In the CAP poll, 24% said they have experienced a “personal tragedy” because of it. In a 2017 poll conducted by the Gallup organization, 33% said that drinking had been a cause of trouble in their family. Also, 88% say they are satisfied with the “variety of alcohol products available” and 78% say they disagree with the idea that “there are not enough places in my community to buy alcohol.” In fact, 62% say increasing outlets would cause more problems. And, 54% disagree with the statement that the “price of alcohol in my community is too high.”
So why would lawmakers be eager to loosen alcohol regulations, add alcohol outlets, create new licenses and fail to increase funding for enforcement? The disconnect may be due to the fact that leaders rarely hear from the general public or the public health community on this issue, but they do hear from industry representatives—especially large, national corporations that have substantial funds to pay for lobbyists and to make campaign contributions. They hear that our regulations are “antiquated”. They hear that alcohol should not be treated any different from other products. They hear that customers are crying for “better prices” and greater convenience. These things are just not true.
Here are some key results from the poll:
1. Most important consideration for lawmakers in crafting alcohol regulations:
77% Reducing drunk driving
70% Protecting health and public safety
62% Reducing underage drinking
52% Encouraging moderation
48% Creating more jobs
42% Increasing economic development
28% Giving consumers more choices
22% Lowering prices
19% Allowing more businesses to produce and sell alcoholic products
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