Once again, from the first sentence of The Truth About Alcohol Delivery and Underage Drinking author C. Jarrett Dieterle misleads readers and ignores empirical data in favor of a narrative spun by special interest groups in state legislatures across the country.
The truth is: there hasn’t been a “broad re-thinking of American beverage alcohol laws” since the start of COVID-19 regarding direct-to-consumer (DTC) spirits shipping. The DTC utopia Dieterle advocates for throughout his article doesn’t exist because law makers across the country have repeatedly recognized the public health and safety concerns, negative tax implications, and increased enforcement costs. Instead, Dieterle misleads readers, by implying that the same day convenience of having “a six-pack of beer or a bottle of their favorite whiskey delivered to their homes” through local, licensed delivery is the same as shipping spirits across state lines.
The truth is: Dieterle needs to check his facts: Kentucky is the only state since 2020 that has enacted permanent DTC spirits shipping legislation. Since then, ZERO states that have faced new spirits DTC shipping bills have enacted them. ZERO.
The truth is: DTC alcohol shipping across state lines by a common carrier (e.g., UPS or FedEx) isn’t the only solution for consumer convenience. What Dieterle fails to inform his readers of is that same-day delivery from local, licensed retailers already exists in most states across the country. Off-premise local, licensed delivery laws are on the books in 43 states and Washington, D.C while on-premise retailers like your favorite restaurant or bar are allowed to deliver in 25 and Washington, D.C. Same day local, delivery through a licensed retailer has safeguards in place to prevent underage access and clear liability should alcohol products reach the hands of teenagers – the same doesn’t exist in the DTC spirits or wine shipping models Dieterle advocates for.
The truth is: the wine DTC marketplace isn’t a model lawmakers should strive to replicate. State regulators are now beginning to accurately measure its negative impact on the marketplace and account for the billions in lost tax revenue to statutory budgets. States across the country are recognizing that DTC wine shipments lead to more bureaucracy, challenging enforcement, and the spending of more taxpayer dollars.
- In 2021, the VA ABC was granted $1 million to fund 10 new DTC enforcement positions.
- In the same year, five states (TN, KS, HI, OH and AL) passed stricter reporting measures.
- In 2022, Oklahoma held an interim hearing to consider stricter DTC penalties when a state senator twice shipped a bottle of whiskey to himself with no signature required by the common carrier.
"I requested this study when I realized that while wine can legally be shipped directly to customers, liquor cannot but it’s still happening across Oklahoma. This is a major problem because excise tax is not being collected on these purchases and the state is losing out on significant tax revenue. It’s also dangerous because the U.S. Postal Service, UPS and other shipping companies have no clue what they’re transporting and are potentially providing liquor to minors because their drivers don’t check IDs when dropping off packages." – Oklahoma Senator Bill Coleman
The truth is: Dieterle doesn’t seem to understand what 82% of surveyed Americans know – alcohol isn’t like other consumer products and should be regulated differently. The bottom line is that Apple products aren’t alcohol. If AirPods get into the hands of a teenager, it's a good day for Apple – quite the opposite for spirits.
Dieterle’s example of Apple is interesting – while there are no regulations against Apple selling through second parties, Apple has chosen to ONLY sell licensed products through approved retailers or “certified resellers” thereby establishing a clear and transparent chain of custody in an otherwise unregulated DTC marketplace. There is a RATHER LARGE BLACK MARKET of knockoff Apple Products that go DTC to consumers – Apple spends millions fighting this. So will spirits producers.
Furthermore, counterfeit AirPods won’t kill your teenager. In countries that have less stringent alcohol regulations than the United States, deaths caused by dangerous counterfeit alcohol is a real problem. Last week alone, the Peruvian Ministry of Health announced the deaths of 54 people from methanol-laced vodka.
The truth is: WSWA surveyed mothers about their concerns regarding potential DTC spirits shipping because they are advocates for public health and safety. Their concerns that DTC spirits shipping will lead to an increase in underage drinking and increased access to dangerous, counterfeit product are ones that states and responsible members of the three-tier system share, and those concerns needed to be quantified to combat the dangerous and misleading narrative that “research” like the R Street study Dieterle promotes.
The truth is: “an empirical study” done by Dieterle’s organization is a gross miscorrelation of available data. The attempt to prove that DTC is no danger to underage drinking by comparing the DTC wine marketplace and underage drinking rates is over simplified and a faulty twist of facts.