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BOSTON -- The battle over wine sales in Massachusetts is over. Voters rejected initiatives to allow convenience stores, grocery stores and gas station to stock wine at their stores. CSNews Online reported in September of this year that supermarket chains piled nearly $3 million for their campaign to license the sale of wine in stores with contributors including Stop & Shop Supermarkets and Shaw's Supermarkets.
The battle over wine sales, known as Question 1, was the most expensive ballot question campaign in state history, with opposing sides combining to spend more than $11.5 million, The Associated Press reported.
Question 1 opponents were primarily a well-financed coalition of independent liquor store owners and beer distributors who staged a furious come-from-behind victory to block the supermarkets and convenience stores from moving in on their territory, the report stated. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, 56 percent of voters opposed the measure while 44 percent supported it.
Polls taken two weeks before the election showed Question 1 favored by a two-to-one margin among those surveyed. The opponents blitzed TV and radio airwaves with ads portraying the proposal as a public safety issue, according to The Associated Press. They claimed teenagers would be more likely to obtain alcohol because convenience stores also could apply for wine licenses if the question were approved.
"All we did was tell (voters) there was more to this than convenience," said Question 1 opponents spokesman Doug Bailey in the report. "There is a social cost and a public safety cost. The only way to find out what that cost is was to approve the question. And the voters determined that was too much of a gamble."
Supporters of Question 1 also employed ads to emphasize consumer convenience and remind voters that most other states already allow such sales, the report stated.
Chris Flynn, president of the Massachusetts Food Association, said voters "were misled by a negative, scare campaign" by his opponents' emphasis on the fact that the initiative would allow convenience stores, gas stations and mini-marts -- not just supermarkets -- to apply for wine licenses.