I write in support of the prohibition on the sale of liquor in bottles less than or equal to 100 ml. We have heard many reasons why this prohibition is beneficial. Among them are a reduction in roadside litter, presumably less alcoholic consumption in a moving vehicle, and the reduction of non-biodegradable plastics that contaminate the environment. We also heard many reasons why it is not beneficial. These include a loss of individual freedom of choice, as well as lost sales to our package stores. Making public policy is hard work. For me, weighing the pros and cons was challenging.
I am a core environmentalist, so I find the environmental benefits compelling. But I was deeply concerned about the negative business impact to our package stores. So, I conducted my own research. I contacted five municipalities that had a nip ban. The three that responded provided no sales data but said no stores had closed since the ban. I also contacted the president of Massachusetts Package Stores Association. He was not able to provide aggregate data on sales before and after the ban at this time. I learned that in Boston, more than 20 percent of the 280 package stores had signed on to a voluntary program not to sell nips. Still, this left me with incomplete information. The best I could come up with was a loss of sales centering on 15 percent. And no store closings. If there had been evidence of store closings, I may have decided differently on this issue.
The package stores in Plymouth are wonderful neighbors. They do enormous, good work for our community. This prohibition is not a penalty because of some infraction.
Yet, climate change and the challenge of environmental sustainability are upon us. I believe we all have a role to play. That means we need to change what we buy, what we sell, and how we use it. This includes how we heat our homes and power our cars. It also includes a reduction of single use plastics and the avoidance of non-biodegradable litter on our roadsides that contaminates the environment.
Editor’s note: Desloges is a precinct 15 Town Meeting member. This letter was adapted from remarks he made at Town Meeting in October.
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