Updated liquor laws could cost Oklahomans thousands of jobs

Citing concerns of job losses, economic hardship and the creation of a monopoly, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) is urging Oklahoma legislators to consider the impact pending alcohol legislation will have on small businesses and consumer choice.

In a letter sent to lawmakers, Dale Szyndrowski, DISCUS central region vice president, spelled out the problems SJR68 and SB383 will create for Oklahoma liquor store owners and their customers.

“Our economic analysis estimates that package stores will lose an average of $218,000 in revenue annually, or about 24 percent of store revenue, due to lost foot traffic,” Szyndrowski said. “We are also concerned with special provisions that have been slipped into SJR68 which will consolidate more than 90 percent of wine and spirits sales into the hands of just two companies. The language creates a virtual monopoly for the beneficiaries.

“This will force businesses to close and Oklahomans to lose their jobs. It will also mean fewer choices for consumers.

“Relegating distilled spirits products to package stores while creating 4,000 new locations that sell strong beer and wine across Oklahoma would shutter hundreds of small businesses and cost thousands of Oklahomans their jobs.”

The letter references information from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism which says the amount of alcohol in a standard drink of regular beer (12 ounces), wine (5 ounces) and distilled spirits (1.5 ounces) each contain the same amount of alcohol (0.6 ounce) and each have the same effect on the body.

“Policies that discriminate against one form of alcohol serve only to perpetuate the dangerous misperception that there is ‘soft’ alcohol and there is ‘hard’ alcohol,” Szyndrowski’s letter says. “The fact is alcohol is alcohol. There is no beverage of moderation, only a practice of moderation.”