A preliminary report for the Washington State Liquor Control Board ties an increase in emergency room visits in the Seattle area to expanded liquor sales.
The study found a 50% increase in hospital visits in King county, related to alcohol, from June, 2012 (when liquor began being sold in private stores) and September, 2013. During roughly that same time researchers also found people younger than 21, on Medicaid, made one-third more visits to emergency rooms because of alcohol-related issues.
Privatizing liquor sales has caused a 400% expansion in the number of stores selling the hard stuff.
The executive director of the Washington State Association of Sheriffs and Police chiefs, Mitch Barker, tells FM News 101 the study “confirms our worst concerns” about what the Association believes is poor security on the part of some liquor sellers. Barker says retailers are not required to report to anyone their losses related to theft of liquor.
According to Barker, a good portion of the growth in younger people treated for alcohol issues is tied to liquor they might have stolen, or has been stolen by organized crime groups and then sold, secondarily, to whoever will buy it at reduced cost.
Barker says they’ve pushed for 2 years, with both the liquor board and the legislature, to make such reporting mandatory, with no success.
The researchers who did the study are health officials from both Washington and Oregon.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press