Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wine at the Grocery

There are a couple of bills before the Tennessee legislature that, if passed, would permit grocery stores in the state to sell wine. Naturally there are lobbyists on both sides of this bill, but some of them are full of hot air.

Chuck Groover is the senior pastor of Victory Baptist Church in Mount Juliet. He argues that making wine available in more places will lead to more alcoholism.

“Convenience for a few should be the last justification for making higher alcohol-content drink, wine, more accessible to the public by allowing sale in grocery stores.”
Fine, Chuck. Why don’t you show us some statistical evidence that alcoholism rates are higher in states where wine is available in grocery stores compared to states where it isn’t?

Statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that Tennessee does, in fact, have one of the lowest alcohol consumption rates in the country. Average consumption in the US is 2.27 gallons per person per year, while the average consumption in Tennessee is less than 2.00 g/p/y. Is it because Tennessee doesn't allow wine to be sold in groceries?

Wikipedia conveniently has a comparison of alcohol laws by state, so let’s examine them.

Other states at the bottom of the consumption rate chart with Tennessee include Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia. Of these, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and West Virginia (five out of nine) allow wine sales in grocery stores; Kentucky and West Virginia even allow distilled alcohol sales in grocery stores.

States that forbid wine sales in groceries include Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming. Of these, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Wyoming (six out of fifteen) are at the top of the NIAAA charts with consumption rates greater than 2.50 g/p/y.

Where’s the connection, Chuck? I don’t have a big stake in this vote, but your reasoning (that wine sales in grocery stores increase alcoholism) doesn’t hold up to statistical analysis. More than half of the states at the low end of the alcohol consumption scale permit wine sales in groceries, and over a third of the states at the high end of the consumption scale forbid wine sales in groceries.

Perhaps Pastor Chuck should confine himself to Biblical arguments instead of making unsupported claims about the effects of wine availability on alcoholism rates.

No comments: