Online sale of alcohol to teens proves difficult to control

The Alaska Beverage Council is concerned about teens ordering alcohol online. There are thousands of Web sites, many based in other countries, that allow the online order of any beverage alcohol. Clicking a box that claims you are 21 and a credit card are all that it takes.

The U.S. Supreme Court has made matters worse with its ruling in Rowe v. The New Hampshire Motor Transport Association, which allows for the free flow of tobacco via private shippers such as Federal Express or DHL.

Essentially, the tobacco decision creates the opportunity for minors -- our children -- to go online, order anything -- alcohol, tobacco -- and have it delivered without requiring the delivery person to check IDs when the package is delivered. It's a serious concern that Alaska Beverage Council shares with parents, families, communities and lawmakers across Alaska.

As research proves, teens often don't get their liquor from licensed establishments. Sixty-five percent of minors get their alcohol from parents' liquor cabinets or the family fridge. Another sizable percentage asks older shoppers to go into the liquor store for them. In fact, illegal purchases from retailers only represent 7 percent of the problem thanks to the diligence of our members.

We believe the Supreme Court ruling is not only a step backward but opens the door to future complications. By ruling that the responsibility to verify age cannot be placed on the shipper, how can we ensure the person ordering alcohol online is of legal age?

The responsibility is now on the state Legislature, the Alcohol Beverage Control Board and the industry to figure out how to prevent teens from ordering online. Industry members see state control of alcohol shipments as a key component in preventing alcohol abuse among minors.

The Supreme Court's decision was a wake-up call for us all. As the industry and government work to find a solution to the legal and technical issues, we ask parents, teachers and guardians of Alaska teens to keep an even closer eye out for teens buying alcohol online.

source: Anchorage Daily News



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