Allowing the sale of alcohol in movie theaters is shortsighted and a threat to public safety as well as a bad example for our children and youth.
The public safety aspect is simple to understand. Alcohol use impairs both motor skills and judgment. Should there be an emergency, whether a fire or a terrorist, people need to be able to think clearly so they can reach safety. A dark, crowded theater carries its own risks without adding a “buzz” of inebriation. In addition, many people lose their inhibitions when drinking and are more likely to engage in inappropriate touching. Others get belligerent and fight.
Bars have trained adult personnel to handle inappropriate behavior. Theaters often hire low-wage teenagers ill-equipped to deal with a rowdy drunk. Then, of course, a theater that sells alcohol adds one more place for the police to monitor for impaired driving.
The second issue is the example that public drinking sets in places where youth frequent. Teenagers are among the most prolific moviegoers, and children and youth learn by example. They are not allowed to go to bars. What kind of example does it set for them to see adults drinking in other entertainment venues where they, themselves, may be unsupervised?
Our youth need to be divorced from the idea that drinking is a normal part of having fun or being “grown.” Most alcoholics that I have known started drinking in their teens. The examples set by adults are often a reason cited for picking up that first beer.
Finally, allowing alcohol to be sold in theaters may actually backfire on attendance. Would a parent really want to take her 10-year-old to a PG-rated movie if she knows someone might get drunk and vomit on her child, or start a fight?
Drinking decreases the family-friendliness of a night at the theater. Newly recovering alcoholics often want entertainment venues that are both fun and free of alcohol. There is more to recovery than going to AA, and movies can be a very enjoyable break for persons fighting this dreadful disease. But if their drug of choice is staring them in the face, a theater could be as much a temptation as a bar.
I seriously disagree with Councilwoman Denise Marcelle when she says she doesn’t see the difference in drinking at a sports bar and drinking at a movie. A bar is an adult establishment specifically intended for one to consume alcohol and socialize. A theater is a place where friends, family and youth enjoy a movie. There is a huge difference.