NEW JERSEY — During the pandemic, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill allowing businesses to temporarily sell alcoholic beverages for takeout.
Before the pandemic, take-out alcoholic beverages were only allowed in a handful of states, including New Orleans. Other exceptions include the town of Butte, Montana, where you’re free to drink on the streets as long as it’s not between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Since the temporary legalization of take-out alcohol during the pandemic, a few states have made these regulations permanent, including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Ohio. So what should New Jersey do?
According to a recent survey by American Addiction Centers, 40% of New Jersey residents support the idea of permanently legalizing alcoholic beverages on the go. A temporary law enacted during the pandemic currently allows alcoholic beverages to go.
This compares to a national average of 43 percent. Broken down by age, the highest percentage of those who support the law are those between 25 and 34, the study finds. It could also be linked to the prevalence of binge drinking culture among millennials who, lacking social interaction during lockdown, relied on delivery companies to regularly restock their liquor stores, according to the study.
The second highest proportion of takeout alcohol supporters was the 35-44 age group. The 55-64 and 65+ age groups were the most opposed to relaxing liquor laws.
The Garden State is home to some of the strictest liquor laws.
Those advocating for making takeout laws permanent say the financial situation for restaurants and bars after the pandemic is grim, where profit margins are very slim. Alcohol generates approximately 30 percent of all of their income and helps them stay afloat. With lower costs and inventory that has a long shelf life, alcohol generates greater profits.
Those who oppose the relaxation of current laws believe that they will lead to a significant increase in public health problems. More than 1 in 3 (38%) thought it was.
In the United States, alcohol is the third most preventable cause of death, killing approximately 95,000 people a year according to the NIAAA.
And finally, a majority, 85% of respondents, thought the biggest downside of permanently legalizing takeout drinks would be an increase in drunk driving incidents.
According to NHTSA, every day, approximately 28 people in the United States die in drunk driving crashes, which equates to one person every 52 minutes. A further 8% of those polled said the biggest downside of it might be that it encouraged public drunkenness, and a further 7% felt it would increase illegal underage alcohol sales.