In Pa., a caveat emptor with your Cabernet

 (Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks)

(Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks)

A state House proposal would add a disclaimer to Pennsylvania’s sales pitches for wine and liquor.

“This ad paid for by you, the taxpayers of Pennsylvania,” would be tagged onto things like newspaper inserts and billboards for products sold in the state stores operated by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Cumberland, has been collecting co-sponsors for his measure since announcing in December that he would introduce the legislation. He said the LCB ad spending takes money that would otherwise go to the commonwealth – $5.8 million was spent on advertising in the 2012-13 budget year.

“Taxpayers may not be aware that the PLCB is currently spending on the order of close to $6 million a year of state funds, taxpayer funds, on the promotion and advertising of liquor sales,” Bloom said.

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The issue of LCB advertising has long been contentious. Opponents say a monopoly shouldn’t have to place ads. But LCB officials say advertising maximizes revenue. Nearly a quarter of the $2.2 billion in sales generated by 2012-13 sales landed state coffers.

An LCB staffer adds that Bloom’s disclaimer isn’t technically accurate. Advertising is funded by sales proceeds. But Bloom said the agency itself is still a taxpayer resource, and that Pennsylvanians should be reminded as such. He noted the legislation that’s been stalled for over a year to phase out state liquor stores.

“Maybe this is a kind of a measure we could get some traction on,” Bloom said, “because it would advance the argument and help the public to understand what the PLCB does.”

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