Liquor Inspectors To Trap Private Retailers in BC

July 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

This week the LCLB announced that they will be conducting ‘sting’ operations around the province in both private and public liquor retail stores.

What they do is hire a minor and send them into liquor stores to see if the stores check for 2 pieces of valid ID. The inspector follows them in and stands behind them in line to watch the transaction unfold.

If the store clerk doesn’t check for 2 pieces or accepts a piece of ID that is not official, then the store will receive a contravention notice. If they have received a contravention notice of any sort before, they will be fined $7500 or be closed for a specific period of time and forced to place a big red sign in a prominent position saying that they sold liquor to an underage person.

If the attempt is to curtail underage drinking then this process is flawed and here is why:

1) It doesn’t charge the offender. Only the store gets charged and not the underage person attempting to purchase alcohol. It takes at least two parties to sell to underage buyers and both should be held accountable. Let’s face it if you were caught speeding on the highway, you would be charged and most of us would think it ridiculous if the dealer who sold you the car was the only one charged.

2) Different strokes for different folks. A fine assessed to a private retailer is money out of the retailers pocket. A fine assessed to a public store is money out of the government pocket and therefore there is really no impact on the store or its employees.

3) Doesn’t get to the root of the issue. Why is underage drinking such a problem? Or why do kids want to drink? Let’s be clear the problem isn’t that kids want a drink, it’s that they want too much to drink. The problem is that, for kids, drinking is taboo or cool. This is a direct function of not making our kids aware of what wine, beer and spirits are and how they fit into a healthy lifestyle.

Let me know your thoughts.

Taboo Pressure

October 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

BC recently changed their drinking and driving laws. The Union BC Municipalities are petitioning the BC Government to adopt a progressive alcohol tax that adds more tax to higher alcohol items. Both are in the hopes of reducing and limiting’ irresponsible drinking’. My thoughts are pretty simple; neither gets to the heart of the issue and therefore neither will have the desired effect.

First what is ‘irresponsible drinking’?  I think we can all agree that having a couple of glasses of wine or beer with friends is not the problem. Neither is getting piss drunk and puking all over yourself. The problem is getting piss drunk and either getting behind the wheel of a car, or exiting a bar and starting fights or damaging property, or drinking yourself silly and beating up ones kids or spouse, of drinking while you’re on the job or pregnant, or simply drinking yourself to death. By the way this was not meant to be a comprehensive list. In other words it is the social cost of over indulgence.

None of the above instances are economically motivated, nor will they be significantly derailed through economic actions. I believe that it simply encourages other illegal behaviours like smuggling, experimenting with expensive narcotics, breaking & entering, that sort of thing.

Rather I believe that these issues are cultural.  We are brought up understanding that drinking is a taboo (n. a prohibition imposed by a social custom or as a protective measure – Merriam-Webster Dictionary). One that our parents relish and joke about, but kids are forbidden to do. What happens is that we create a taboo. A taboo that is alluring and seductive. A taboo that it accessible and energized by peer pressure. If your buddies are trading shots you are likely to do that to.

Pricing will play a role in eliminating the problem but won’t solve it. My guess is that deconstructing the taboo will significantly reduce the social motivation for over consumption. By the way deconstructing the taboo won’t happen if it comes from the ‘authorities’. It seems that is a sure-fire way to encourage the opposite behaviour.

The next question is how and who will have the political motivation to do make  the ‘how’ happen.  Love to hear your thoughts on this.

Thanks for reading this.

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