USA: Alcohol trade bodies oppose liberalization of USPS alcohol shipments

A coalition of alcohol trade bodies is opposing the proposed legislation to allow the US Postal Service (USPS) to handle beverage alcohol. According to the proposed legislation, the USPS would be permitted to mail alcoholic beverages in accordance with the delivery requirements otherwise applicable to a private courier.

Organizations including the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), American Beverage Licensees (ABL), American Distilled Spirits Alliance (ADSA) and National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) have signed a letter which was sent to Members of Congress.

“Proposed legislation to allow the US Postal Service to handle beverage alcohol is simply not a safe or responsible solution to answer the current significant needs of the USPS,” says WSWA CEO and President Michelle Korsmo. “Allowing the USPS to ship beverage alcohol would compromise the work of policy makers across America who work hard to control underage access to alcohol and keep moderate levels of consumption part of safe and healthy communities. Current regulations strike a good balance and have provided more than 85 years of effective state-based alcohol regulation and efficient taxation.”

However, people in favor of the proposed liberalization argue that the trade bodies defend a business model that has long been out of date. A law that dates back to the times of prohibition or shortly after the lift of the ban should be checked for relevance today.

From the perspective of proponents of the reform it is difficult to see why private courier companies like UPS should be allowed to send alcoholic beverages, whereas state-controlled services like USPS are denied to do this. The only beneficiaries of the restrictive legislation are the trade bodies that are now fighting the law.

In addition, the proposed legislation gives enough protection to minors as it requires that the USPS would have to ensure any alcoholic drinks were delivered to an authorized agent or an addressee at least 21 years of age.

Regulations to allow postal services to ship alcoholic products are already in place in large parts of Europe and other parts of the world and there is no negative effect on alcohol consumption by minors.

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