A new report by the Kansas Health Institute lays out the potential health effects of expanding liquor licenses to grocery and convenience stores in Kansas.
The study says more outlets selling alcohol may lead to increased consumption by under-aged drinkers. Tatiana Lin, who leads KHI's health impact assessment work, says making alcohol more available makes kids more likely to want to try it. And studies in other states indicate it’s easier for young people to steal alcohol when it’s sold in grocery and convenience stores.
“Because in convenience and grocery stores, there’s just not the same level of surveillance and enforcement that is in liquor stores,” Lin says.
But there’s only so much a merchant can do to stop theft, according to Tom Palace. He heads an association of convenience stores in Kansas. Palace says convenience and grocery stores already sell beer, lottery tickets, and tobacco, requiring customers to produce ID. He says the opposition to expanded liquor sales is really about protecting liquor stores from competition.
“The consumer wants to buy these products because it’s more convenient," Palace says. "You have competition in the market, and when you have competition the consumer wins.”
A bill to let grocery and convenience stores sell liquor died in committee again this year.