Double Standard in Liquor Control Enforcement

The Pennsylvania Independent has an excellent exposé on the double standard in liquor control enforcement between bars and restaurants and Pennsylvania’s state-run liquor stores.

State police regularly perform sting operations on bars and restaurants to catch wait staff or bar tenders selling alcohol to underage teens. However, these same compliance checks are not carried out in state-run liquor stores. Why? Because the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which runs the state stores, is allowed to police its own operations.

Union mouthpiece Wendell Young continually touts how there have been only two incidences in the past seven years where state employees sold alcohol to minors (it’s actually five in the last six years, but who’s counting). However, given the PLCB’s clear conflict of interest between encouraging and policing alcohol consumption, it is not surprising that it reports nearly nonexistent sales to minors.

The state-run system does not prevent underage consumption. If it did, Pennsylvania—one of only two states with full control over the sale of wine and liquor at the retail and wholesale level—would be rated amongst the lowest in underage drinking rates, but that’s not the case. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health ranks Pennsylvania (a full control state) middle-of-the-pack, or worse, on rates of underage drinking and binge drinking. Moreover, PLCB’s own 2011 report found statewide high school drinking rates are higher than the U.S. average.

The state’s monopoly on wine and liquor inflates costs without providing greater enforcement. It’s time to end the double standard and privatize state-run liquor stores.