Booze at the Grocery Store

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. A proposed legislation would allow you to grab a bottle of liquor on a routine trip to Walmart, but opponents are worried about how the change might give kids easy access to booze.

Florida's liquor laws allow for beer and wine to be sold at supermarkets, but not the hard stuff.

If new legislation is approved, places like Walmart and supermarkets will be able to put a booze aisle next to the produce.

A.J. Smith a Retired State Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco Officer told us, “The biggest concern is access by minors, especially now as we’re moving into spring break.”

A.J. Smith is a retired alcohol beverage, and tobacco enforcement officer. He says even though booze is sold in big box stores in other states - it's more dangerous here because of Florida's spring break culture.

Smith is concerned, “Next month’s gonna start spring break and we’re going to see thousands of kids from all over the country here and we have them here all year round, too, because of the climate. I think our environment is a little bit different.”

Big box stores can sell liquor, customers just have to go through a separate entrance

The bills sponsor, Rep. Jimmy Smith of Inverness says the law is outdated. “I think it’s antiquated, I think it’s common sense that a dividing wall in a store that’s under the same roof, is obviously not needed.”

Smith believes minors aren’t as inclined to go for hard liquor. “You see anything in reference to alcohol and drinking for minors, it’s usually beer. If that was true, the wine wouldn’t be sold next to the beer as well.”

Florida's independent spirit association shrugged off the idea that this is about competition worries. The group says they already compete with supermarkets that have a separate liquor store entrance.

Walmart is supporting the legislation for the change. The Florida Independent Spirits Association is worried that even though Walmart does card for alcohol sales, their younger cashiers won’t be as ready to spot a minor or fake ID.


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