Indiana's cold beer law hurts consumers
You could hear the collective sigh of disappointment and frustration that rippled throughout Indiana when a federal court decided not to overturn an archaic law that regulates the sale of beer based on temperature. The court had an opportunity to end the monopoly liquor stores have over the cold beer market that limits consumer choice, competition in the market and growth of our state’s economy.
The court ruled that expanding the sale of cold beer to convenience, grocery and drug stores would lead to additional chances for minors to purchase beer. The truth is liquor stores are worse offenders than other retail outlets when it comes to the sale of alcohol to minors.
Since 2005, the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission cited that restaurants and bars were in violation 60 percent of the time when it came to the sale of alcohol to minors. Liquor stores have the second worst record selling to minors at 20 percent of the time. Grocery, convenience and drug stores were in violation only 16 percent of the time.
It is clear that convenience, grocery and drug stores perform better than liquor stores when it comes to limiting the sale of alcohol to minors. Convenience stores as well as grocery and drug stores have invested in employee training programs and technologies to ensure alcohol does not end up in the hands of children at the point of purchase.
Our lawsuit was about creating a fair environment for healthy competition among all retailers and providing greater convenience for Hoosier shoppers, while maintaining a responsible regulatory environment. Instead we are stuck with an antiquated law that protects the special interests of one class of retailer over another.
We hear the frustration from our customers every day. They are tired of having limited choices on where they can buy their beer cold. This is especially true in some of our larger cities, such as Bloomington or Columbus, where a single business owner dominates the entire cold beer market. Consumers also are tired of paying the surcharges liquor stores in our state apply to cold beer.
Our association will continue to fight for fair alcohol sales in Indiana. It was in 1963 that an unelected commission unfairly granted, for the first time, liquor store owners the sole right to sell cold beer at retail. History shows a constantly changing regulatory environment over cold beer.
The question is, how long will it take for Indiana to modernize its alcohol laws? When will our state join the rest of the country and lift ridiculous restrictions on the sale of beer based on temperature?
Executive Director, Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association