Local Politics

Religious group lobbies against privatizing liquor sales

Posted January 4, 2011 11:11 a.m. EST
Updated January 5, 2011 9:18 a.m. EST

— The Christian Action League of North Carolina is urging lawmakers to block any attempt to privatize the state-run liquor distribution system.

The conservative group, which a group of churches created during the prohibition era to address alcohol policy, said dismantling the state Alcoholic Beverage Control system would hurt North Carolina more than help it.

Gov. Beverly Perdue has said she's looking at having a private entity manage the ABC system to cut state costs and boost revenue. Numerous lawmakers have said they also want to privatize the system after perks like high salaries by local ABC officials and lavish dinners paid for by distillers were exposed.

"No system of alcohol regulation is without its inefficiencies, corruptions, or failures," Rev. Mark Creech, the executive director of the Christian Action League, wrote in a Dec. 22 letter to lawmakers. "Alcohol regulation was never designed to stop all alcohol-oriented problems, but to provide the best system for order and decency."

Creech noted that North Carolina ranks 48th nationally in per capita alcohol consumption and third in the state revenue generated per gallon of liquor sold. In neighboring South Carolina, which has a private liquor distribution business, the state ranks 25th in per capita consumption and 39th in revenue generated.

"North Carolina’s current system of alcohol control effectively strikes a critical balance," he wrote.

Creech also cited a recent study by a California-based alcohol industry watchdog group, which found that privatizing liquor sales has led to increased alcohol consumption, including binge drinking by youths, and alcohol-related driving deaths, as well as suicide, assault and other violence.

"I urge you to reject the unfounded assertion that our state can do as good or better in protecting the interest of North Carolina’s most valuable asset, its people, by privatizing liquor sales," he wrote.