Letters to the Editor

Cheers! Spirits industry brings jobs to Florida

This month, the beverage alcohol industry celebrated the 81st anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment on December 5, 2014 — ending Prohibition in 1933.

In today’s beverage alcohol industry, the Three-Tier System exemplifies a responsible and efficient distribution system that delivers adults a variety of products available anywhere in the world in a manner that controls access to legal drinking age consumers, delivers tax revenue to local, state and federal governments, and ensures product safety and consumer protection.

Within the first tier, alcohol beverages are produced at distilleries, wineries and breweries around the world. In the middle tier are the wholesale distributors. Wholesalers are the important central link in the Three-Tier System — and at the center of a $200 billion industry that results in the collection of more than $55 billion in federal, state and local taxes annually including $932,788,000 in taxes to the state of Florida.

Wholesalers alone employ more than 6,000 in Florida. As the nation’s leading wine and spirits distributor with operations in 35 states, Southern Wine & Spirits of America is proud to employ more than 14,000 across the United States, including 3,096 employees in Florida.

Wholesalers deliver products in a manner that guarantees product integrity and safety. The successful regulatory structure and close working relationships between beverage industry firms and regulators is a direct result of the Three-Tier System. Wholesalers are also a vital member of our communities. At Southern, we recognize our social, environmental and ethical conduct has an impact and we are committed to investing and giving back in many ways.

Last, the third tier is represented by outlets where Americans purchase beverage alcohol: on-premise locations like bars and restaurants and retail establishments also known as off-premise locations. In its three-quarter century history, the U.S. beverage alcohol regulatory system has delivered an unparalleled record of consumer safety and diversity of available products.

In total, more than 99,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs are made possible through the Three-Tier System in Florida and more than $1.8 billion in business taxes paid to federal and state government.

Cheers to 81 years!

Harvey R. Chaplin, chairman

Wayne E. Chaplin, president & CEO

Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Miami