Dover, Tenn., will not have wine in retail food stores

The people behind stopteendrinkingtn.org sent an email today to their membership. We have decided to publish the e-mail in its entirety.

Why would we do that? Because we believe this is an important debate for Tennesseans that demands full disclosure on both sides. We have numbered several places in the e-mail. Our comments for each follow the e-mail.

The e-mail was a letter written by Chief of Police Kim Wallace from Dover, Tenn. For the record, Dover is not one of the 85 or so municipalities in Tennessee that has voted to allow liquor stores. So, even if this legislation passes, retail food stores in Dover will not be able to sell wine.


That said, here’s the e-mail in its entirety (our numbered comments are in bold):

To the members of Tennesseans Against Teen Drinking (#1):

I am writing on behalf of our coalition and I wanted to make sure you are aware of the facts.

This coalition is a coalition of law enforcement, public citizens, as well as members of the beverage alcohol industry (#2). It is not a front for alcohol distributors and retailers, but rather a group of people that is worried about opening up further access to alcohol in our community. We in law enforcement are in fact happy that the beverage alcohol industry has become involved in this fight (#3) since they hold a special responsibility as the sellers of alcohol in our state.

It should come as no surprise that some of the people who are opposing us are members of the media and others who want to expand access (#4). Their current issue is Wine in Grocery Stores, which would create a new type of liquor license in Tennessee and increase the number of outlets selling wine by as many as 6,000 (#5)– that’s 10 times what we have today.

This legislation is a direct threat to our public safety (#6). Despite the many studies showing the direct link between increased alcohol availability and alcohol-related abuses and incidents (#7), the national and international grocery chains continue to push this initiative in the name of “choice” and “convenience.” (#8)

As a police chief and mother of two teenagers, I am very concerned about what will happen to our society if this legislation passes. Please forward this email to your friends, neighbors, coworkers and family and ask them to sign our petition at http://www.StopTeenDrinkingTN.org if they too are worried about increasing the availability of alcohol in our communities.

We must put public safety before consumer choice (#9). We must put our children and our community first.

Many thanks,

Chief Kim Wallace
Chief of Police
Dover, TN

And, now our comments to each of these points.

  1. The stopteendrinkingtn.org website claims 700 members. Red White and Food has more than 1,500 — in less than two weeks.
  2. Their “supporters” include the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee (WSWT), which distributes liquor and wine; the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association, whose members distribute beer; the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association; the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police (TACP) and sheriffs across the state, according to the website.
  3. The grocery and convenience store industry advocated the Responsible Vendor Act, which requires mandatory proof of age for all beer sales and annual training for employees. The beverage alcohol industry has not adopted a similar standard. At least give us credit.
  4. The stores that would sell wine if this legislation passes already sell beer today and do so responsibly.
  5. We have no proof this estimate includes only stores in municipalities that allow package sales. We have requested a clarification from the Legislative Finance Committee.
  6. Thirty-three other states allows wine sales in retail food stores. There is no evidence to suggest a correlation between those sales and higher public safety risks.
  7. See our previous point. And kindly provide sources for this information.
  8. Consumers involved in this debate have overwhelmingly expressed a desire for choice and convenience.
  9. We can have both choice and safety. What is a greater deterrent to minors trying to buy alcohol than mandatory proof of age? Retail food stores already do it. Perhaps the beverage alcohol industry should follow our lead.
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4 Responses to “Dover, Tenn., will not have wine in retail food stores”

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