Contact: Wendi Leggitt (212) 681-1380 or (301) 247-0528

COALITION TO DAINES: STAND UP FOR ALL KIDS, DON’T BE HYPOCRITE Commissioner Fights Childhood Obesity, Mute on Reckless Plan to Expand Access to Wine NEW YORK, NY March 15, 2010 – Last Store on Main Street Coalition leaders today called on State Health Commissioner Richard Daines to stand up for teenagers and fight underage drinking by renouncing Governor Paterson’s dangerous plan to legalize wine sales in 19,000 new outlets across New York. Commissioner Daines has been outspoken promoting the Governor’s sugar tax, claiming it will help prevent childhood obesity and has even attacked State Legislators who disagree with his position. Yet Daines has been mute on Paterson’s reckless plan to dramatically increase access to high-alcohol wine by legalizing sales in every gas station, deli, bodega and corner store in the state that sells beer. “Public health experts and prevention experts, along with law enforcement, have made a strong case that increasing access to wine in 19,000 outlets will increase underage drinking and put our teenagers at risk,” said Jeff Saunders, president of the Retailers Alliance and founder of the Last Store coalition. “New Yorkers can smell a hypocrite a mile away and Daines is getting pretty ripe. It’s time for him to speak out on this dangerous plan.” New York State spends more than $3.2 billion every year to deal with issues stemming from underage drinking, from accidents and violence to teen pregnancies and diseases. In fact, underage drinking is the Number 1 substance abuse problem in New York today, according to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. “Underage drinking is a serious problem that will only get worse by expanding access to wine in 19,000 new outlets,” said Stefan Kalogridis, president of the New York State Liquor Store Association and a coalition leader. “Wine stores provide a level of control over the sale of this potent product – wine has four times the alcohol content as beer – that delis, bodegas, gas stations and corner stores could never match.” The Paterson Administration’s chief advocates for this dangerous plan has been the Budget Division, but despite concocting phony revenue numbers has failed to win over legislators; and Ag & Markets Commissioner Pat Hooker, who has been exposed as little more than a shill for Big Box stores. -more-

“Where is Daines when it comes to fighting to prevent underage drinking? Or is his campaign against childhood obesity just a phony ploy to impose a new tax on working families in New York,” said Michael Correra, executive director of Metropolitan Package Store and a coalition leader. “Daines needs to speak up today or risk being exposed as a hypocrite. If he truly cares about children, and not just about new taxes to feed his government bureaucracy, he will stand up and oppose Paterson’s bad plan.” ###

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