A recent Philadelphia Inquirer piece tries to give both sides of the debate over liquor privatization. But one key fact ingored was that the Community Preventive Services Task Force report—a report often cited by privatization skeptics—admits there isn’t evidence linking liquor store privatization to social harms.
In its own analysis of “research gaps,” the Task Force writes that there is “limited available evidence of effects of privatization on alcohol-related harms” and “insufficient evidence to determine the effects of privatization on excessive alcohol consumption and related harms.” They even note this is inconsistent with their own recommendation.
The Task Force reviewed 21 studies with more than 30-year-old sales data, some of which found increased consumption following privatization; others found no change or decreases. None of the studies found increases in alcohol-related harms. In 2007, the Task Force took no position on privatization of liquor sales—then changed their position without any new evidence!
The bottom line? There is widespread agreement on liquor privatization. We agree with the Task Force report that ending the government-run monopoly will make buying wine and spirits more convenient for consumers. But we also agree that there is no evidence linking social ills to liquor store privatization.
You can find more information on liquor store privatization and social impacts here.