Ohio, Other States Do Big Business in Booze

Published September 1, 2006

Statenet.com’s Capitol Journal on July 31 summarized a Cleveland Plain Dealer article on Ohio’s liquor operations as follows:

“Ohio, like 17 other states and a couple of counties in Maryland, is what’s known as a ‘control state,’ meaning the distribution of hard liquor within the state’s borders is the exclusive province of the government. That turned out to be a very beneficial arrangement for the Buckeye State this past year, when it sold more booze than it had in any other 12-month period since 1989. According to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, 9.9 million gallons of the stuff was doled out, generating $638.8 million in sales.

“You could almost hear state officials clinking their glasses over the state’s share of the till, $138 million. ‘Some people look at it as good and bad,’ said superintendent of liquor control Rae Ann Estep, but ‘we’re generating more revenue for the state, and all Ohioans benefit from that whether they drink alcohol or not.’

“Ohioans aren’t the only ones with something to drink to. Estep said alcohol consumption was ‘up not only in Ohio, but also in the other 18 controlled liquor states.’

“Matthew Ballish, a senior instructor at the Professional Bartending School in Cleveland, tendered one possible explanation for the liquor boom. ‘Vodka-based martinis are on a huge rise because of all of the flavored vodkas out there right now,’ he said. Meanwhile, he added, ‘the old standbys gin and tonic, rum and Coke aren’t going away.’

“A second and equally occupation-centric opinion was offered by psychiatrist Dr. Kenneth Miller, who runs a practice in suburban Columbus. ‘Certainly with economic times and the current conditions of traumatic crises across the world … people tend to seek out ways to calm their anxiety and depression,’ he said.”