The Distilled Spirits Council is Neutral on Privatization and I-1183.
This fall you will be asked to vote on Initiative 1183 to privatize the state’s liquor system. The Distilled Spirits Council and its member companies represent most of the distilled spirits sold in Washington State and across the United States. As a matter of principle, we take no position and are neutral on the issue of privatization. We believe that the citizens of each state should determine for themselves how beverage alcohol should be regulated in their state.
When considering this Initiative, we urge you not to base your decision on the misperception that spirits are different than beer or wine. This is simply not true. Alcohol is alcohol and is all the same to a breathalyzer. Beer, wine and spirits all should be consumed in moderation. The regulatory structure established by the State to prevent underage access and deter misuse of beer and wine will work just as effectively for spirits.
Unfortunately, in our opinion, Initiative 1183 is flawed for several reasons and may not be in your best interest as a customer.
FIRST, Initiative 1183 would allow retailers to sell to retailers. This would create a second wholesale tier, which would mean an extra middleman and increased costs to the consumer. This makes no sense and is not in the customer’s best interest. Across the country nearly every state has adopted a three-tiered system of suppliers, a single level of wholesalers and retailers. This system has ensured appropriate regulation, competitive pricing and great consumer choice.
SECOND, Initiative 1183 would require a spirits retailer to have at least 10,000 square feet of retail space. This would severely limit the opportunity for small business growth and customer convenience. While the Distilled Spirits Council is not in favor of beverage alcohol in every corner store, it does support the opportunity for responsible small business growth, the jobs this would create, and the consumer convenience this would allow.
THIRD, Initiative 1183 would greatly reduce competition in the marketplace by extending franchise protection to the wholesalers of spirits. Simply put, this means a wholesaler would essentially be unaccountable for the service it provides to retailers and for the prices it charges. This in turn would reduce customer convenience, service, choice and competitive pricing.
The Distilled Spirits Council has been a leader for over fifty years in advocating responsible decision making in the use of its fine products. In turn, we urge you to fully understand the issues presented by Initiative 1183 so that you may make a responsible decision as you vote on this important matter.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States