Time To Reinstate Happy Hour? Former Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis Says No

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/07/21/time-to-reinstate-happy-hour-former-massachusetts-governor-mike-dukakis-says-no/

A new poll shows support for restoring happy hour is high in Massachusetts, but the governor who outlawed it 37 years ago is urging people to reconsider their support.

A poll released by MassINC Polling Group this week showed that 70 percent of Massachusetts residents would support restoring happy hour in Massachusetts. It’s a policy that allows bars and restaurants to offer discounted alcoholic beverages for a certain timeframe during the day as well as allowing them to offer free drinks. Only 20 percent of poll respondents opposed the idea.

Supporters of happy hour say it benefits bars and restaurants by giving them more business while benefitting consumers who pay lower prices. Opponents argue that the social costs outweigh the benefits.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts banned happy hour in 1984 after a Braintree woman was killed by a drunken driver who got drunk from beers she consumed at a happy hour in the state.

At the time, the state’s drinking age was 20. A 20-year-old woman drank several mugs of beer, including two she won during a trivia contest run by a disc jockey at a Ground Round in Braintree. Another 20-year-old woman who had been sitting on the hood of the first woman’s car in the parking lot fell off and was dragged underneath the car and was killed, according to a news account from around that time.

Michael Dukakis, a Democrat, was governor at the time. He supported eliminating happy hour then, and he opposes bringing it back now, as he told NewBostonPost on Wednesday morning.

“We got rid of it for a very good reason, and I don’t think anything has changed since,” Dukakis said by email.

Dukakis was re-election governor in 1986. He went on to become the 1988 Democratic nominee for president. He left the governor’s office in January 1991.

In 1984, Massachusetts became the first state to ban happy hour. It is now illegal in eight of the 50 states, according to Bar Advisor

A 2014 study conducted by Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy concluded that the availability of happy hour specials result in more instances of drunken driving.

“Those who drank more frequently, initiated alcohol use earlier, and increased their drinking during happy hours were also significantly more likely to report driving under the influence,” the study states.

The study found that 64.1 percent of respondents drink more during happy hour compared to 35.9 percent who do not.

The study also showed that happy hour results in slightly more unprotected sex with strangers and a significantly greater risk of fighting,

Additionally drunk people are more likely to chase losses when gambling, according to a 2019 study from the Centre For Gambling Research at the University of British Columbia. Many bars in Massachusetts have gambling available via the state lottery with Keno being among the most popular.

It’s also an issue where Dukakis and the incumbent Republican governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker agree.

“I’ve got no problem with the fact that we don’t discount alcohol,” Baker told State House News Service in 2015. “Frankly, maybe this makes me an old fuddy-duddy at this point. It probably does. I’m O.K. with that.”


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