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- Jerry D Mead - 02-03-1999 01:09 AM

The attached press release is an example of the lengths to which the wholesale monopoly will go to prevent interstate shipping of wine. The ARAA referred to in the release is 100% WSWA (Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America) funded. These guys are so intent on protecting their monopoly that they are in bed with alcocops and anti-alcohol groups such as WCTU (Women's Christian Temperance Union...Carrie Nation's old group), MADD, SADD etc. The video they describe of minors receiving shipments was a sting. In the 30 years I've been covering the wine beat, there has not been a single documented case of a minor buying wine via the mails or internet that was not part of a sting, assisted by an adult or police. JDM

National Safety Coalition Asks Arizona Legislators Not to Relax Alcohol Laws


WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- A national coalition of public safety and other groups working to deter underage access to alcohol beverages today called on Arizona legislators "to hold the line against out-of-state wine industry lobbyists who are trying to sabotage your alcohol beverage control laws."

According to Barry W. McCahill, Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Alcohol Access (ARAA), State legislators are being lobbied for legislation to make it easier for California wineries to ship their products directly to residents, creating a new and unenforceable shipment channel that bypasses Arizona's licensed beverage control system.

Allowing some consumer-direct shipping would supposedly make it easier for wine enthusiasts and "hobbyists" to pursue their interests, but ARAA argues that it would be "bad public policy that would make it easier for teenagers to acquire beer, wine and liquor."

In a January 27 letter, McCahill urged Arizona legislators to "vote in the public interest rather than the commercial interest of the California wine industry." Enclosed was a videotape of one of dozens by investigative reports by television stations across the country that show how direct shipping is making it easily for teenagers to order beer, wine and liquor on the Internet and have it shipped directly to their home or college dorm.

"A picture says a thousand words. The videotapes document the dishonesty of those advocating direct shipping of alcohol. Reporters who did the stories told us that they were shocked by how boldly the direct shippers -- mostly California wineries and unscrupulous retail operators in several states -- said one thing about their business practices, then routinely violated everything they said.

"Ironically, as they lobby you to change your statutes to help them increase their profits, these same out-of-state interests already are violating your laws. Today, all over Arizona, delivery trucks are delivering bootleg beer, wine and liquor that was ordered on the Internet and shipped illegally to State residents -- delivered outside your licensed system, perhaps to a minor, and without taxes paid," McCahill said.

Kyra White, a student at Arizona State University and SADD National Student of the Year, said, "Teenagers are very resourceful when it comes to alcohol and will try to get it any way they can. When it's as easy as clicking a computer mouse or making a toll-free call and having it shipped to the door when parents are at work, or to a college dormitory, we have opened a dangerous floodgate.

"Every college student I know has at least one credit card, all have access to the Internet, and most don't turn 21 until their junior or senior year. Anyone who says that teenagers won't take advantage of this new, incredibly easy way to get alcohol doesn't understand the reality of alcohol use by high school and college students," she said.

McCahill explained, "Their agenda is to get their foot in the door with a Trojan horse proposal that sounds reasonable at first blush because it supposedly involves only 'small quantities' shipped to 'hobbyists.' But they know once an exception is made that Arizona law enforcement and state alcohol beverage officials cannot possibly differentiate between a legal 'hobbyist' shipment and an illegal shipment.

"Before voting to compromise Arizona's alcohol beverage control laws, legislators should ask that question of alcohol control officials and police," McCahill said.

"The proposition that Arizona consumers are somehow restricted in their legal choices of alcohol is ridiculous," he added. "The licensed system in Arizona is run by Arizona residents, for Arizona residents, and accountable to Arizona residents. It is committed to obtaining any product an adult consumer may want and delivering it legally in a face-to-face transaction. That's the only accountable and verifiable way to deter underage access."

A national poll conducted for ARAA by Wirthlin Worldwide found that 85 percent of the public agrees that the sale of alcohol beverages over the Internet or through the mail should not be allowed because it would give minors easier access to alcohol and could result in more abuse.

ARAA says the legislative momentum in the country is toward legislation banning any direct shipping, not in favor of liberalizing laws. In response to the estimated $1 billion in bootleg alcohol that is crisscrossing the nation, seven states passed such legislation in the last two years alone and the issue is before many legislatures. Just last week, the North Dakota Senate passed a bill that would make any direct shipping a felony, and Wyoming has a new law pending that sets a $5,000 fine per violation.

SOURCE Americans for Responsible Alcohol Access

CO: Americans for Responsible Alcohol Access

ST: Arizona, District of Columbia

IN:

SU: LEG

02/01/99 14:14 EST http://www.prnewswire.com