Wine Distributors Responsible for 98% of Minors Drinking
Juanita Duggan, the soon to be former President of the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association, is leaving her post with a party shot: A new survey, commissioned by her group of anti-consumer wholesalers, that suggests fully 2% of 14 to 20 year olds in the United States have purchased alcohol online.
According to 2000 census data there were last year somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 Million such minors. That means that around 600,000 minors have purchased alcohol on-line. Let’s presume that those who have succeeded have done so again at a very slight rate. Say, of those 600,000 10% have done so at least one more time, giving us about 660,000 online alcohol transactions by minors.
Now just for kicks, let’s suppose that each transaction comes in at around $30, an amount that is surely a low estimate. That gives us a total of just under $20,000,000 in transactions by minors.
I looked at the survey that was administered (you can find it here in PDF Format). There was something missing. Something that would have put the issue of alcohol and minors in a much more important light. There was no question concerning how minors obtained alcohol.
If we want to understand the problem of minors consuming alcohol, we really should try to understand where they are getting it. If only 2% are obtaining it online, then 98% are getting it elsewhere.
Where would that be?
I’m guessing from a friend and from Mom and Dad’s liquor cabinet come in around #1 and #2. But then there is the brick and mortar stores. Certainly far more alcohol is being purchased by minors at liquor stores with fake IDs.
But you never hear about this from the WSWA? Why is that? Pretty simple. Alcohol purchased at liquor stores is alcohol the wholesalers have already gotten their money out of. The stuff minors are buying at liquor stores was put there by wholesalers who sold it to them. In other words, wholesalers really don’t care about minors who obtain alcohol from liquor stores. So basically, this survey demonstrates that 98% of alcohol that minors consume goes through wine wholesalers’ hands.
However, much of the alcohol purchased online has not gone through wholesalers hands and wholesalers have not make any money on the transaction at any point. That’s a real problem for the WSWA.
So let’s be real blunt about about: Wholesalers and the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America don’t carer about underage drinking. They care about making sure they make money off underage drinking.
That said, and it’s something that needs to be said often, let me offer the take away lines from the USA Today story on this survey:
"A year after the Supreme Court made it easier for wineries to ship
products to customers in a different state, a new survey indicates that
teens haven’t necessarily rushed to use the Internet to buy alcohol, as
critics of the court’s decision have feared."
"The survey was commissioned by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of
America, a trade group that opposed the court’s decision allowing
direct shipments from wineries to customers in different states."
"Tom Riley, spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug
Control Policy, said the survey indicates online alcohol sales to teens
aren’t a major problem, but he warned that could change."
There is a very simple fix to the issue of online alcohol sales to minors: Age Verification services. There are many effective ones. The other option, if you really want to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors altogether, is a simple one: Prohibition.