Sunday Sales Discussion Leads to Underage Drinking Prevention

(NETWORK INDIANA)   Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana may happen this year. But, at a hearing at the State House Wednesday, some suggestions were made on how to keep young people from buying beer and liquor, whether it’s on Sunday or not.

Lisa Hutcheson, with the Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking, told the Senate Public Policy Committee that she understands that the bill that would allow Sunday sales would likely continue on through the Senate, but she believes some pieces need to be added to it.

Hutcheson said she agrees with a provision already in the bill which would limit hours for Sunday sales. But, she said more could be done to prevent more underage drinking.

“Alcohol is still the most widely used drug by youth and adults bin Indiana and underage drinking costs alone about $1.3 billion every year in our state,” said Hutcheson. “Sixteen to 18 percent of adults in Indiana are binge drinkers and nearly 70 percent of all Hoosiers admitted for treatment are admitted for alcohol abuse.”

Hutcheson said the General Assembly should keep data for at least two years on how Sunday sales affects underage drinking, impaired driving and other possible results of more days with alcohol being sold.

“We recommend that all clerks who sell alcohol be at least 21 years of age. We recommend all clerks who serve alcohol be required to pass a server training course and an exam annually as a condition of licensure,” she said. “We recommend that all alcohol be separated from other products in the store.”

Hutcheson said that recommendation is so young people are not marketed to. She said that applies to signs and all alcohol advertising, which she said should not be where young people can see them.

“We are not prohibitionists. We know that alcohol will continue to have a role in our society, as it always has. But, what role will we give it? The role of convenience beverage that is as accessible as milk or candy, the role of a featured attraction as we continue to elevate beverage alcohol as family entertainment?”

Hutcheson said the caveats she brought up are evidence-based, and she believes they are reasonable.

Sunday alcohol sales was supported by most people who testified in the Senate Wednesday.