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BOSTON -- Voters in Massachusetts yesterday resoundingly rejected a ballot question that would have permitted more food retailers to carry wine. Fifty-six percent of voters opposed the measure, while 44 percent were in favor of it.
With the financial might of big liquor wholesalers and beer distributors behind them, the state's independent liquor stores, known as package stores, were successful in persuading the state's residents to vote 'no' on the so-called Question 1 at the polls.
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The Boston Globe characterized the efforts by both sides of the issue to sway voters as "the most expensive ballot question campaign in state history" -- $11.5 million spent by both sides.
Stop & Shop, Shaw's, and Hannaford Bros. contributed 72 percent of the $6.9 million spent by food stores to support the measure.
Massachusetts Food Association president Christopher Flynn blamed liquor stores' "negative scare campaign," which included advertising that focused on the potential threat to public safety if the measure passed, for the defeat of the measure. He added that his trade group would keep trying to get wine into more food retailers as a convenience for shoppers.
The measure would have enabled Massachusetts cities and towns to grant wine-at-food-store licenses as well as existing liquor licenses, with supermarkets allowed to hold an unlimited number of the new wine licenses. Under the proposed law, each community could have granted five new wine licenses, and communities with populations of over 5,000 residents would have been able to issue one more license for each additional 5,000 residents
Approximately 40 grocery stores in the state have full liquor licenses or beer and wine licenses under a current state law limiting chains to three licenses each.