Grocery wine sales: Too handy, too risky

The following information is taken from the book “Learn Something New Every Day: 365 Facts to Fulfill Your Life,” by Kee Malesky, published by John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2012.

In February 2011, the World Health Organization released its Global States Report on Alcohol and Health. The report provided data on the use of alcohol and its effects in more than a hundred countries.

The worldwide consumption is about 6.5 quarts of alcohol per adult (15 years or older) per year.

Interestingly, although the use of alcohol is worldwide, half of the world’s population has never consumed any alcohol. Also, studies show that 35 percent of men and 55 percent of women have never consumed any alcohol. Studies show that alcohol abuse has very serious health consequences. It is a causal factor in more than 60 types of diseases and injuries.

About 2.5 million deaths each year are related to alcohol use. That is nearly 4 percent of all deaths: 6.2 percent of deaths are among men and 1.1 percent among women.

Interestingly, the report shows that 9 percent of deaths are among 15- to 29-year-olds. That is greater than the number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDS, violence or tuberculosis. (Yeah, let’s make the purchase of these alcoholic beverages easier — more convenient.)

Also, the report on alcohol use states that its largest alcohol consumption levels are found in the developed world.

The Republic of Moldova is at the top of the list. The Moldavians consume 19 quarts of alcohol per person per year. (When I read these figures I thought to myself: I wonder if they can buy wine in grocery stores?)

The United States exceeds the world average in alcohol consumption —with 10 quarts of alcohol per person per year. That is the average per person per year. (But according to Wikipedia, South Korea has the highest alcohol consumption. And, according to the same report in Wikipedia, the United States has a much lower consumption. Maybe it would be a good idea to keep it that way.)

If wine with 11 percent alcohol can be purchased in the grocery store, would the figure remain the same or go up?

That’s only one reason not to sell wine in grocery stores. Would the 10 quarts per person, per year increase if we made the purchase more convenient?

My opinion? Of course, it would.

Written by Robert McGowan, a regular Express columnist, as well as a Bartlett resident and former professor of biology at the University of Memphis. Contact him at (901) 828-6039 or via email at