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Scott Ashley: Responsible alcohol regulation helps the industry grow

Responsible distribution practices provide consumers with a wide variety of safe products.

Many people don’t give it a second thought when selecting a glass of wine or cocktail off of a menu at a Florida bar or restaurant, but in places like the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Costa Rica, apprehension is likely given recent headlines of tragic deaths of tourists due to counterfeit alcohol.

The U.S. three-tier beverage alcohol system made up of licensed suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers moves America’s favorite alcoholic beverage products from producer to consumer, while keeping counterfeit product out.

Wine and spirits wholesalers in Florida are a central part of this system and ensure Floridians and the almost 130-millions who visit Florida each year never fall ill from illicit alcohol at licensed establishments.

Wholesalers in the state employ 6,500 Floridians to help keep the market safe and accountable, an increase of 40 percent since 2016. These wholesalers also help collect almost $468 million in state excise taxes each year, money that is used to help fund schools, roads, and safety initiatives that benefit Floridians.

All told, $2.37 billion in state tax revenue is collected annually from alcohol sales. Responsible distribution practices save Florida’s government money and provide consumers with a wide variety of safe products to choose from.

This system is efficient and accountable, and protects consumers and non-consumers alike, and is worthy of protecting.

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Scott Ashley is president and general counsel of the Wine & Spirits Distributors of Florida.

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