(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Retailers have long heard from customers who want to responsibly purchase adult beverages where they buy their groceries. In an effort to provide consumers what they want at affordable prices, Floridians for Fair Business Practices today announced its support for Senate Bill 804 and House Bill 877. The legislation before state lawmakers proposes repealing a law that requires liquor sales to be separate from groceries and other goods. Unfortunately, Florida has yet to modernize this separation law, which originated in 1935 after prohibition. There are currently 34 states that allow the sale of liquor without a separation requirement, in line with other adult beverage products.
Opponents of the measure state that by repealing the current law it would allow for uncontrolled and unrestricted access to alcohol by minors. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“It is obvious the liquor stores are worried about their bottom line but instead of admitting it, they are hiding behind claims that minors will have greater access to alcohol. What an insult to the public and our lawmakers, who can see right through their argument,” said Christina Johnson, spokeswoman for the coalition. “Many retailers and grocers already sell beer and wine and have established rigorous training and security measures to prevent alcohol sales to minors. Their brands cannot afford not to take this seriously.”
According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, of the majority of underage drinkers (ages 12-20), 62 percent report getting their alcohol from adults such as parents, guardians, other family members or unrelated adults. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control’s 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveyreported that 40 percent of students who reported past-month consumption said they usually obtained the alcohol they drank by someone giving it to them.
Further, in one state without a separation requirement, research shows that liquor stores have more recorded violations in selling alcohol to minors than drug stores, convenience stores and grocery stores combined. According to data collected from January 2005 through December 2013, liquor stores had 56 percent of total violations in selling alcohol to minors compared to 44 percent committed by the other retail outlets.
Florida retailers and grocers remain committed in continuing strict enforcement policies and procedures relating to adult beverage compliance. This includes employee training and continued education, use of current technologies, adhering to restricted hours and strong identification policies.
What are lawmakers saying?
“The current law [565.04, F.S.] requires additional regulation and costs.”
~ Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton)
“The regulation is outdated, and there is no reason to have a dividing wall. There are plenty of safeguards to keep minors from getting alcohol without placing a wall of concrete in front of responsible adults who can buy it legally.”
~ Rep. Jimmie Smith (R-Inverness)
“We as a legislature try to create a deregulation environment for businesses and make it easy on consumers. It does not make a lot of sense to require customers who want liquor and beer, wine or groceries to shop at two separate stores.”
~Rep. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota)
“I welcome the opportunity to debate the opponent’s protectionist concerns. What the spirits retailers are really saying is telling lawmakers competition is not a good thing.”
~ Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation)
“With many options already available, this Prohibition Era relic no longer serves a legitimate public purpose.”
~ Sen. Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee)
About Floridians for Fair Business Practices
Floridians for Fair Business Practices is a coalition of retailers whose purpose is to identify rules and regulations which prohibit the growth and expansion of Florida business.
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Contact: Christina Johnson