Washington State’s Prop. 1183: The Iowa Dustup and Trends Thereafter

This is the second of two Points posts on Prop. 1183; the first is here.

Arguably the best available historical evidence on the consumption effects following a U.S. state’s privatization of distilled spirits sales derives from Iowa’s experience in the 1980s.  In March, 1987 Iowa abandoned its retail (though not its wholesale) monopoly on spirits sales.  This change followed Iowa’s earlier abandonment of retail and wholesale monopolies on bottled wine in 1985, which was preceded in 1981 by licensing some wine sales to grocery stores, drug stores, and other consumer outlets.  Harold A. Mulford and colleagues depicted the sweeping scope of these events in a 1992 Journal of Studies on Alcohol article.  “This shift from a state monopoly to a private distribution system,” they wrote,

constituted the most abrupt and dramatic increase in alcohol availability that any state has experienced since the repeal of Prohibition (Holder, 1988). Not only did the number of outlets rapidly increase from approximately 200 state stores to approximately 800 private off-premise wine outlets and 400 spirits outlets, but also wine and spirits were brought within arm’s reach of nearly all grocery and convenience store shoppers.  Sunday sales were legalized, hours of sales were extended, advertising was allowed and purchases could be made on credit terms.

No monopoly state had abandoned its control over retail liquor sales before, although a number had abandoned monopolies on wine sales in earlier years. 

What happened after liquor’s privatization in Iowa?

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From the Hindsfoot Foundation: AA History Resources

Editor’s Note: Points readers who enjoyed Ernie Kurtz’s post of a few weeks back, which talked about the challenges and subtleties of “AA History,” may be interested in the following announcement from Glenn Chesnut, moderator of the AA History Lovers listerv and founder of the Hindsfoot Foundation, “a not-for-profit organization founded in 1993 for the …

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