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Our View: There's already enough time to buy alcohol

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opinion River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

A bill being considered in the Wisconsin Legislature would allow beer, wine and distilled spirits to be sold daily beginning at 6 a.m.

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Current law restricts the sale of intoxicating drinks to the hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. The proposal before the House and Senate would allow grocery stores, retailers, gas stations and convenience stores that hold a Class A license to sell alcohol from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Such organizations as the Wisconsin Grocers Association support the plan. Because Wisconsin taverns are allowed to open at 6 a.m., proponents claim, the bill would simply put all retailers on an equal playing field. They also claim that allowing earlier sales would not lead to more alcohol abuse, and the idea would merely make it more convenient for customers to buy the products they want when they want it.

Others, and we, disagree.

The AWARE (All-Wisconsin Alcohol Risk Education) coalition, a University of Wisconsin health effort that battles alcohol abuse, said the state already leads the nation in drunken driving and binge drinking rates.

Any additional hours that alcohol is available for sale can only make things worse, they say. Their argument makes sense.

Senate Bill 44 and its companion Assembly Bill 63 deserve to be soundly defeated and filed away for good. Expanding alcohol sales is a bad idea, and it sends the wrong kind of message to young people across Wisconsin.

The appropriate message is that alcohol is not like soda pop or an energy drink. Consuming beer, wine and other intoxicating liquors has a real impact on people and their lives if used improperly. Continuing to limit access to those beverages helps to send such a message.

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