Anti-Competitive Retail Alcohol Regulations Are Designed to Thwart Competition, Not Underage Drinking

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Checking IDs at the point of retail sale does not stop minors from getting beer. The people buying the beer are of legal age. They are reselling it to minors. Or the kids are getting it from their parents.

Based on conversations with his child and others, the parent said many of the teens are buying beer from a group of men who have established a weekend business of sorts beneath the I-95 ramp behind the Wawa. “They are getting the teenagers to give them twice as much as a quart would cost,” he said. In between customers, the men play hacky sack and corn hole (aka, bean bag toss). Some kids and other parents have told him that several local establishments are both selling to the men under I-95 knowing they will re-sell to minors, or selling to the minors directly without asking for ID.

Pennsylvania’s old-school alcohol regulations are optimized to prevent competition between alcohol sellers. They are not optimized to prevent binge drinking, underage drinking, or drunk driving. Can we please stop pretending that anti-competitive policies are the same thing as good public health policies?

(via Kellie Patrick Gates)

This entry was posted in Economy, Issues.

4 Responses to Anti-Competitive Retail Alcohol Regulations Are Designed to Thwart Competition, Not Underage Drinking

  1. David Diano says:

    Kids paying double the price is kind of a deterrent. If they didn’t card, the underage kids who look 21 would be buying directly from the stores.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Right, the demand constraint on underage people is money – set the price floor for cheap swill pretty high and the teens can’t afford so much of it. Teenagers are broke, mostly.

      • Except someone will always come along and lower it. For example, if you charge someone $30 for a case that costs $15, what would stop them from finding someone who they can buy it from for say $23, or $25?

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