Public safety vs. major overhaul of alcohol laws: CAL takes a stand | Eastern North Carolina Now

By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
September 15, 2023

The executive director of the Christian Action League this week urged House members to defeat a bill that would loosen alcohol restrictions, warning such an overhaul would harm public safety and lead to more fatalities on the road.

The proposed bill, SB 527, would allow alcohol sales on Sundays and holidays (except Christmas and Thanksgiving), overturn the ban on happy hours and allow the sale of to-go mixed drinks.

Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, wrote House members a letter encouraging them to vote “no.”

“When restrictions on alcohol policy are lifted as they are in this measure,” he wrote, it can lead to binge drinking and “serious health issues.”

Drunk driving, violence and social disturbances “inevitably arise,” he added.

“The Christian Action League is particularly concerned about the provision that will allow ABC stores to open on Sundays and holidays,” he wrote. “No Sunday sales at ABC stores help to promote family time, improved health, less alcohol-related crime, and drunk driving fatalities on Sundays, religious observance, and responsible consumption. Several studies show the health benefits of taking a break from drinking just one day a week. These advantages are subject to be diminished or lost if this bill succeeds.”

Creech also testified before the House Finance Committee, saying the issue is not partisan.

“According to the Blanchard Institute, alcohol abuse in North Carolina has been on a steady rise since 2012,” Creech told House members on the committee. “We cannot afford to ignore this detrimental trend. Yet, I would suggest this is what we’ve done for the last eight years. Since 2015, our state has introduced and passed six ABC Omnibus Bills, with a total of 117 pages combined in length and more than 100 provisions that substantially loosen our state’s alcohol laws.”

Creech cited data from the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics that says “excessive alcohol use leads to the loss of 115,831 years of potential life annually in our state.”

“Moreover, in 2010 North Carolina taxpayers incurred a staggering burden of over $7 billion due to the consequences of excessive alcohol use,” Creech said. “Adjusting for inflation, this figure amounts to more than $9 billion in today’s economy. Astonishingly, that translates to $2.85 per drink in 2022. These numbers should not be brushed aside or taken lightly. We must reflect upon the profound financial implications of loosening alcohol control laws. Our duty is to safeguard our state’s economy, taxpayers’ money, and the overall welfare of our fellow North Carolinians. This bill doesn’t do that on several fronts. It will line the pockets of people in the alcohol business, but in the long run, their prosperity will be unjustly borne on the backs of our state’s citizens.”

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