NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A group of law enforcement officers is speaking out against a legislative proposal to allow wine to be sold in Tennessee grocery and convenience stores.
Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork said at a news conference at the legislative office complex in Nashville on Wednesday that greater availability of wine would come at the price of public safety because it would draw the attention of law enforcement away from more pressing issues. It could also lead to more underage drinking.
would appeal to our legislators to think about public safety when you address
that issue," said Sheriff Wolfork.
Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch said a recent incident that led a fraternity to be banned from the University of Tennessee should dispel supporters' claims that underage drinkers aren't interested in obtaining wine.
In that case a 20-year-old student was hospitalized after a drinking game involving boxed wine that allegedly included consuming it through an enema.
The Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association released this statement after the news of law enforcement's decision to speak out against wine in grocery and convenience stores.
President, Jarron Springer argued allowing the sales in food stores would bring an economic boost to the entire state.
"There's no correlation between wine sales in retail food stores and alcohol related crimes," said Springer. "It will be a job producer for the state, and also bring additional tax revenue for the state of Tennessee."
Springer added the timing of the law enforcement press conference wasn't surprising.
"It's obvious that this is gaining momentum, and we are moving towards passage of the bill," said Springer. "They are starting to react in a way like they did today."
Even if the bill before the legislature this session passes, wine would not be immediately placed in stores throughout the state. It would allow local communities to decide through a referendum as to whether wine should be available at retail food stores. Right now, public opinion polls show strong support for the idea.
Thirty-six states, including six of Tennessee's neighboring states, currently allow wine sales in retail food stores.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)