Monday, February 26, 2007
Washington State Considers Grocery Sampling Program for Beer and Wine
A bill has been introduced in the Washington State Legislature that would authorize a limited pilot program allowing small samples of beer and wine to be handed out to adults in grocery stores.
Under the program, 30 grocery stores would be involved in the test. They would be allowed to give customers no more than 4 ounces during a tasting session and would only be permitted to host the in-store tastings once a month. The program would enable consumers to try various wines and beers before plunking down their hard earned money to buy a full bottle or six pack.
Not so fast says the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention. The group claims that sampling beer and wine in grocery stores would send the wrong message to underage shoppers. The group is lobbying that the program would show community support for alcohol use and lead to more abuse of alcohol by young people.
Grocers in the state argue the program would help educate consumers and support smaller brands from the region. The Washington Liquor Control Board has said it does not believe the program would create a legal issue because the stores would monitor sampling in the same way they do sales to prevent underage drinkers from taking part.
Moreover, sampling beer and wine in an environment where it is sold along side food and suggested as an accompaniment to meals is exactly the responsible consumption message that substance abuse organizations should advocate for in the legislature. Wine and beer have been a part of the diets of man for thousands of years. The more modern day consumers see them as part of a healthy lifestyle and teach responsible consumption patterns to youth, the less of an alcohol abuse problem we will encounter.