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LRC: Banning Transfer of Alcohol and Tobacco Raises Jail Costs $6.6 Million

The Legislative Research Council has produced the fiscal impact statements required for Consistent South Dakota’s ballot initiatives to outlaw the transfer of tobacco and alcoholic beverages. The LRC says it analyzed stats on alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use and current conviction rates and sentences for marijuana use. Such comparisons make sense, since the penalties prescribed by the alcohol and tobacco measures mirror those prescribed by current law for messing with marijuana. The LRC also considered “geographic availability…, legal means to obtain…, enforceability, and the nature of the crime itself” for tobacco and alcohol.

LRC’s conclusion: in the worst case, the alcohol ban convicts 685 people a year and puts 417 of them in the pokey. The tobacco ban convicts 263 and incarcerates 161. Annual prison costs would rise $4,753,805 for alcohol traffickers and $1,840,181 for tobacco traffickers. (The LRC also provides the ten-year cost, for those of you unable to add zeroes and move commas.)

The CDC estimates that excessive drinking costs the United States $223.5 billion a year in workplace productivity, health care, criminal justice, and automotive wrecks. If South Dakota carried just its populationally proportional share of those costs (and it likely carries more, because we drink more, but it’s Saturday, so let’s keep the math simple), excessive drinking would cost South Dakota $598 million per year.

Smoking-related illnesses cost the country $170 billion in direct medical care and $156 billion in lost productivity. A populationally proportionate share for South Dakota would be $872 million in health and productivity costs.

Therefore, anyone who wants to beat back Consistent South Dakota’s proposals on cost-benefits grounds can look to the LRC’s fiscal impact statements for 0.8% of the argument against the alcohol ban and 0.2% of the argument against the tobacco ban.


  1. larry kurtz 2015-07-12 08:02


  2. Paul Seamans 2015-07-12 09:45

    This LRC assessment would seem to suggest that South Dakota would see big savings in prison costs by legalizing pot.

  3. mike from iowa 2015-07-12 10:08

    Would someone be so kind as to explain what the transfer of alcohol and tobacco means? Is we talking about interstate transfer or something else? Curious (and uneducated) iowan would like to know.

  4. larry kurtz 2015-07-12 11:14

    An ongoing drug epidemic has swept the US, killing hundreds and sickening thousands more on a daily basis. The widespread use of a substance called “alcohol” — also known as “booze” — has been linked to erratic and even dangerous behavior, ranging from college students running naked down public streets to brutal attacks and robberies.

  5. Bob Newland 2015-07-12 12:41

    Mike from Iowa: “Transfer” means what it means in common usage. Specifically, if the tobacco and alcohol transfer bans were to pass at the 2016 election, then a person could purchase and bring alcohol or tobacco or tobacco paraphernalia into SoDak, and could herein use said sinful substances, but could not give or sell them to anyone within SoDak.

    If one were to do so, then one would risk the social shame associated with having added to the state’s incarceration costs.

  6. mike from iowa 2015-07-12 13:57

    Thank you,Mr Newland. I feel like a roads(kill) scholar now. :)

  7. Nick Nemec 2015-07-12 17:17

    Bob, would I be able to continue making my own hooch? Could I share it with friends provided I didn’t sell it to them?

  8. grudznick 2015-07-12 21:22

    Bob, on average how many drinks do you have each night? Same as you used to?

  9. larry kurtz 2015-07-13 18:06

    grud, on average how many sheep sleep with you each night? Same as you used to?

  10. grudznick 2015-07-13 18:09

    Yes, lar. It’s the same as the last time we discussed it over beers.

  11. larry kurtz 2015-07-13 18:17

    You still have that awful infection, too I see. Treating it with Drano like you were told?

  12. Bob Newland 2015-07-13 20:14

    Nick: No. You could still make hooch, but you could not transfer it to your low-life associates. No matter how much they paid you.

    But I imagine you would flout this law if we get it passed. Just as the LRC expects thousands and thousands to do, with a resulting 685 convictions per year and 417 of those convicted doing time.

    So, go ahead and try to ruin the state’s economy with your ruthless purveying of deadly liquors, and your resulting sucking of resources when you get convicted.

  13. grudznick 2015-07-13 21:34

    This LRC must be a magician to come up with such accurate guesses. The cops would never enforce the ban on hooch because they’d be out there bopping pot-heads.

  14. Bob Newland 2015-07-13 21:37

    Grudz, I have exactly half as many drinks each night as you do.

  15. Bob Newland 2015-07-13 21:38

    Grudz, you are a POS.

Comments are closed.