Wine-in-grocery stores opponent warns of rise in 'street drinkers'

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 3:58pm

Changing state law to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores could lead to an epidemic of boozing in Tennessee with drunken vagrants cluttering the streets of neighborhoods, a crusader against underage drinking warned a state legislative committee Tuesday.

Pamela Erickson, president of the temperance group Public Action Management, testified during the second day of hearings on the legislation, which has failed three straight years in the face of opposition from an unlikely partnership of liquor stores and churches.

“I don’t think you could make a big change like that without increasing consumption and social problems,” Erickson said. “I know a lot of people say 33 states sell wine in grocery stores and they don’t have problems. Well believe me, we do have problems.”

In one state, she said, “Street drinkers came and they littered the neighborhood. I had an employee who lived in that area, and he had to literally move bodies of alcoholics who had passed out in his driveway in order to drive his children to work, and these people would be shouting obscenities to him and his children. … You’re just bound to have more problems with street drinking if you radically increase the outlets for this particular product.”

Erickson claimed supermarkets in England sell booze at low prices, enticing young people to go on binges and causing liver disease and other health problems.

“When you deregulate, you unleash very powerful market forces,” she said. “In the U.K. the large grocery chains are widely blamed for this epidemic. They use alcohol frequently as a loss leader. They’ve driven the price of alcohol ever lower. They’ve been truly devastated by this issue.”

“People ask, why can’t we just be like Europe where they have fewer regulations and a lot fewer problems? That’s just a myth. It’s simply not true at all. … In most European countries, alcohol problems are much greater than ours. In 10 years, hospital admissions for liver disease and acute intoxication of alcohol have doubled in England. One of the shocking things is that 8-year-old children show up in the hospital because they’ve been drinking too much.”

The joint legislative study committee held its first hearings in October.  It's chaired by Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, a supporter of wine in grocery stores.

55 Comments on this post:

By: fightcrib on 12/9/09 at 5:03

Border collie, there is nothing wrong with people who choose to get drunk and laid a lot, even if this is vastly different from your dog show watching lifestyle.

By: house_of_pain on 12/9/09 at 5:04

Kroger's selling wine is a sign of the apocalypse...
and it causes swine flu...

By: kman0066 on 12/10/09 at 9:57

I heard once selling wine in grocery stores causes AIDS...LOL

By god, my parents didn't raze me no fool, dem kids gonna get drunk if they let them see Wine on the shelves at the Piggly Wiggly. Shoot, in my day, we'd take him out with a switch and beat him...and then go home and drink moonshine from a bathtub in our backyard...and then beat my wife and blame it on society or the devil. (My view of a stereotypical Tennessean)

By: ROTCMom on 12/10/09 at 7:35

Hey BC,

Thanks for the warm welcome to Tennessee. I didn't "flee" from anywhere, I came here at the request of my employer. I happen to love living in Tennessee, but yes, I would like a slight change to be able to buy wine in the grocery store. Where I live doesn't have a close by liquor store, and I don't like to waste fuel (and pollute the lovely environment in TN, thus changing it further!) Wow, boy do I feel unwanted in this state now! And I'm not some yuppy city slicker, but a 46 year old mom and sorry I have altered so horribly your home state.


By: drewjohn on 12/17/09 at 9:51

border collie - I just want to say that you are ignorant! You are exactly the kind of person we do not need in Nashville. Keep your moth shut and keep your view to yourself. If you don't drink than you don't have to. Don't tell all rest of us to follow your mightier than thou ways. I was born and raised here my self and i would love to have wine available in grocery stores.

Many of you don't know that living a Bellevue and some other outlying parts of Nashville Liquor stores are not allowed. It's i a good 15minute drive to Charlotte pike or Bellemead to get wine. this would be such a convince to all of us.