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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Shed Lbs. on Beer Drinker's Diet; Choke Over Ohio's Booze Prices

CINCINNATI (TBS) -- Just got word via the Ohio Tavern News that author Scott Cailor has a diet book out that says he lost 110 pounds while on a plan that allowed him to enjoy beer while shrinking his gut. He has a web site that offers testimonials and reviews. Cailor, who has a degree in health education, offers a 100% guarantee and says ''enjoy beer, enjoy life, it all works on this diet."

The Ohio Tavern News headline says the book is building a following.

So have the liquor stores in Kentucky, where the parking lots just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati are filled with vehicles bearing Ohio license tags. The reason: Prices on spirits are much lower. Residents of Cleveland and Columbus -- really, anybody who lives in Ohio far from the border -- are shanghaied by the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, which sets all prices in its 425 "agency" stores. There is no competition and no market economy. Consumers appear to be losing out under the state liquor monopoly.

A little comparison shopping shows there are major discounts available in Kentucky, where privately owned stores must compete with each other to succeed. Technically, it is illegal for an Ohioan to bring in much booze beyond what is considered proper for home use. But the laws are largely ignored these days, and police agencies seldom try to enforce them unless bootlegging (reselling) is involved. Here are some Dec. 26 prices in Ohio state agency stores vs. The Party Source, a big private liquor store just off Interstate 471 in Kentucky that is within sight of downtown Cincinnati:

Smirnoff Vodka, premium triple, 1.75 liter: $23.40 Ohio; $18.49 Kentucky.

Beefeater, London Dry Gin, 1.75 liter: $36.25 Ohio; $27.99 Kentucky.

Jack Daniels, Old No. 7, black label, 1.75 liter: $41.75 Ohio; $34.99 Kentucky.

Jim Beam, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 1.75 liter: $29.70 Ohio; $27.99 Kentucky.

Bacardi Rum, silver label, $24.95 Ohio; $20.79 Kentucky.

Last year, the Ohio Division of Liquor Control made a $138 million profit and turned the money over to the state's general fund. Another $5 million in gallonage taxes were assessed in Cuyahoga County for the Gateway Stadium project. Maybe it is time for Ohio to end its liquor monopoly and see if prices fall and consumers benefit.