Wine Wholesalers: Holding the Baby Up to Block the Bullets

Claims being made by the the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association, and the Wholesaler supported groups such as "Coalition for Safe & Responsible Arizona", "Florida Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking", and "Coalition for Safe & Responsible Michigan". That claim?

"According to the 2004 National Academy of Sciences report “Reducing Underage
Drinking: A Collective Responsibility,” about 10 percent of children who use alcohol get
it through the Internet or through home delivery, and that the number is likely to grow.
By this estimate, more than a million underage drinkers nationwide may be using the
Internet to illicitly obtain alcohol products."

Florida Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking, May 16, 2005

Here’s another one:

Based on federal statistics on underage drinking, more than one million minors now get alcohol through the Internet or by home delivery. This number could have the potential to increase greatly if the regulations are eased.

Coalition for a Safe & Responsible Arizona, May 16, 2005

And another…

A Congressionally-mandated report which examined strategies to reduce and prevent underage drinking, warns that the unregulated direct shipping of alcohol through home delivery and the Internet is a new way for teens to buy alcohol. Fully 10% of young people report obtaining alcohol in this manner and the NAS predicts the percentage will grow. The report also suggests that there are valid reasons for states to consider banning Internet and home delivery sales outright.

Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association

1,000,000 young people?  10% of America’s youth? This is an extraordinary claim. Where does this number come from? And what is meant when Wine & Spirit Wholesalers (WSWA) says that "the report also suggests that there are valid reasons for states to consider banning Internet and home delivery sales outright."

What it means is WSWA isn’t telling the whole story (big surprise there). Plus the 1,000,000 young people number is HIGHLY Suspect.

First, let’s look at this report.

The 2004 National Academy of Sciences Report being referred to by the Wholesaler supported "citizen groups" does address Internet and home delivery of alcohol. It says:

"Surveys of underage purchase of alcohol over the Internet or through home delivery show that small percentages (10 percent) of young people report obtaining alcohol in this manner (Fletcher et al., 2000); however, increasing use of the Internet may increase the percentage. Although an argument can certainly be made for banning Internet and home delivery sales altogether in light of the likelihood that these methods will be used by underage purchasers, the committee recognizes that some states may not be willing to curtail legitimate access to alcohol through these means and so recommends, instead, tightening access.
Recommendation 9-6: States that allow Internet sales and home delivery of alcohol should regulate these activities to reduce the likelihood of sales to underage purchasers. States should require all packages for delivery containing alcohol to be clearly labeled as such"

WSWA doesn’t mention that the National Academy of Sciences Report’s ONLY suggestion is to require deliveries to be labeled as "wine". But why would they mention that in their and their minions’ press releases? It would undermine their arguments.

But still, what about this 1,000,000 kids or 10% of youth getting wine sent to them direct claim?
This claim comes from a 2000 study entitled: "Alcohol Home Delivery Services: A source of Alcohol for Underage Drinkers" from the Journal of Studies of Alcohol. It turns out that this is the only study ever done on youth access to alcohol delivered to the home. But here’s the real story about that study from a report commissioned by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

"The only published study of teen use of home delivery found that 10 percent of the 12th graders and 7 percent of the 18- to 20-year-olds reported consuming home-delivered alcohol (Fletcher et al. 2000). A limitation of this study is that it did not ask whether it was the underage youth or an adult who had ordered the delivery of alcohol."

Let me translate that for you: The study is useless! In other words, the wine that kids drank may have come from dad’s liquor cabinet after dad ordered the wine legally. And it’s not 10% of America’s youth. It’s 10% of 12th graders!

Yet somehow this translates to 1,000,000 children once the WSWA, Juanita Duggan, and her the groups she supports gets their hands on the information.

Over and over Juanita Duggan has demonstrated she’s and her organizations of Wholesaler supported  "citizen groups" are willing to say and do whatever it takes to protect their monopoly on wine sales. If the truth is damaged in the process….Oh well. If family wineries in states across the country are hurt…oh well.

Here’s the bottom line: The Juanita Duggan’s use of children to advance the cause of wholesaler monopoly on wine sales is akin to holding the baby in front of you to block the bullets.

Posted In: Shipping Wine


3 Responses

  1. huge - May 27, 2005

    Tom, I’m unclear….are you for or against direct shipping? Get off the fence man!

  2. - May 28, 2005

    Booze Boys’ BS

    Tom Wark fisks the wine wholesalers’ claims opposing direct-to-consumer sales. Money quote:… use of children to advance the cause of wholesaler monopoly on wine sales is akin to holding the baby in front of you to block the bullets.

  3. hey - May 29, 2005

    btw, they are conflating home delivery with internet shipping.
    the “dial a bottle” services are rather notorious for being good ways to buy underage. they are also immediate ways of accessing alcohol.
    internet shipping involves at least several days wait, and is delivered by more reputable delivery services: the fedex/ups/usps person has a career and a fairly decent job, while the home delivery driver is in a dead end job and could easily be driving pizzas the next day.
    might want to go after tha bad conflation as well as the very bad initial statistics.

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