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The Debate on Alcohol Bans

Since a ban on cheap fortified beers and wines took effect last year in downtown Spokane, incidents related to public intoxication in the area have dropped. Medical calls for alcohol-related incidents have dropped 47 percent in the area and police responses to alcohol-related incidents have decreased 16 percent.

As part of the ban on high-octane beers, the city and state Liquor Control Board agreed last April to establish a mandatory alcohol impact area where liquor licensees would be prohibited from selling 32 low-cost beers and wines for off-premise consumption. It's part of a citywide effort to combat chronic public intoxication.

However, the city faces opposition from store owners on these impact bans. Many businesses are concerned that bans in impact areas, rather than citywide bans, will harm businesses who are no longer allowed to sell these fortified drinks. Many say these impact area bans are just pushing the public intoxication problem aside. Business owners say that customers will simply walk a few blocks to buy the products from other businesses, leaving licensees affected by the ban at a disadvantage.

Loan Ho, manager at Hai's Mini Market on Sprague Avenue and Lee Street, about two miles east of the downtown core has tried to compromise on the ban, saying, "We try to not sell to people who are drunk... I can tell right away if they've been drinking." Ho says she won't voluntarily pull the products from the shelves, but she takes the city's efforts to reduce public drunkenness into account when selling alcohol.

Can you tell if one of your clientele has a had a little too much to drink? In our Alcohol Server Training we teach our students how to look for signs of intoxication – one of the basics of responsible alcohol service and sales. AACEA promotes responsible alcohol service and sales and offers online alcohol server training in Washington. For more information about your alcohol permit

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