"Washington residents should not be fooled by rhetoric from special interests"

"Washington residents should not be fooled by rhetoric from special interests"

The following story ran on just-drinks earlier this week. DISCUS has asked us to point out that it holds a "completely neutral" position on the issue of privatisation. We apologise for any confusion we may have created.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the US (DISCUS) has dismissed a claim made by the Marin Institute that proposals to privatise alcohol retailing systems in Control States represent “Big Alcohol's (attempts) to increase profit margins by ripping off public revenues”.

The alcohol industry watchdog has this week released a report entitled 'Control State Politics: Big Alcohol's Attempt to Dismantle Regulation State by State', and in it suggests that public health will be compromised in return for short-term financial gain for Control States.

The term Control State refers to the 19 US states in which the sale of alcohol is covered by a state monopoly.

In the state of Washington, voters are being asked to approve two separate initiatives, one with funding from retailer Costco, and the other bankrolled by distribution firms, Young's Market Company and Odom-Southern, the Marin Institute said. "Washington residents should not be fooled by rhetoric from special interests," said Sarah Mart, the body's research and policy manager and lead author of the report. "Both initiatives are bad for public health and bad for state revenue and should be voted down."

A coalition of health care providers, faith-based organisations, teachers, treatment and prevention providers and union workers has formed an opposition group called Protect Our Communities in the state, the institute said.

However, when contacted by just-drinks yesterday (22 September) a spokesperson for DISCUS attacked the claims. “It is curious that the Marin Institute, while screaming about Big Alcohol, has zero qualms about the more than US$4m of big beer wholesaler contributions flooding Washington to the anti-privatisation group,” the spokesperson said. “The 'Protect our Communities' group could be more accurately called 'Protect our Beer Profits'.

“Further, a factual comparison of alcohol-related harm using government data shows that there is no difference between control states and open states,” the spokesperson continued. “But, Marin apparently never lets facts or science get in the way of its policy positions.”