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Tennessee bill would ban sale of beer in grocery self-checkout lines

February 23, 2012 By: mike Category: Beer in the news, Government, Memphis

Rep. Bill Sanderson

Tenn. Rep. Bill Sanderson wants to prohibit customers from using a self-checkout machine to buy beer at grocery stores.

If one Tennessee legislator has his way, you won’t be able to skip the long lines at the grocery story and go to the self-checkout line with a sixer of beer in hand.

House Bill 3865, sponsored by Rep. Bill Sanderson (R-Kenton), would prohibit a customer from using a self-checkout machine for the purchase of beer.

Retailers would also have to post signs near the self-checkout machines to notify customers that they can’t use the machines to buy beer.

The bill, which is opposed by the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, was recommended for passage by a House subcommittee Wednesday and referred to the State & Local Government Committee. It’s on the calendar to be heard Tuesday (Feb. 28).

“The intent of this bill is actually to just keep alcohol out of the hands of our youth,” Sanderson said in explaining the bill Wednesday.

The legislator said his son told him about a practice called “swipe and swap.” A minor, he said, scans a six-pack of soft drinks or similar product at the self-checkout machine but then replaces it in the bag with beer.

“I have a 15-year-old son that brought my attention to it. He had seen it on a movie,” Sanderson said.

TGCSA Logo Representative of the grocery store industry disputed the notion that minors are scoring beer this way.

Jarron Springer, president of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, said “swipe and swap” is theft, and “with 1 to 2 percent profit margins in our industry, we can’t handle to have theft in our stores”.

“If this was an issue — and beer, which is a high-dollar product was walking out the door — we would address that,” Springer added.

Dan Haskell, lobbyist for the grocers association, also noted that self-checkout areas are “actually physically supervised by somebody who is old enough to check out beer” and that IDs are always checked when beer is scanned.

“The number of minors purchasing beer through grocery stores in this state is extremely small,” Haskell said.

The bill specifies that no customer may be permitted to use a self-checkout machine to purchase beer. However, if a customer who is 21 years of age or older uses the self-checkout machine to buy beer, that customer would not be charged with a violation of the law. But businesses could face misdemeanor charges if minors buy beer in the self-checkout lines.

The Senate version of the proposal — Senate Bill 3433 — is being sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville), but no action has been taken.

Follow the progress of the bill here. ABC 24 in Memphis also did a story on it, with reaction from local shoppers.

We’ll keep you up to date when we hear any developments. What are your thoughts on this issue? Leave a comment below.

4 Comments to “Tennessee bill would ban sale of beer in grocery self-checkout lines”


  1. This would cost grocery stores plenty of money by inconveniencing potential customers. All the self-checkouts are policed by an employee, and this is an issue where proper training (of the employee) could solve the issue, rather than passing an entire law. The facts say that the most theft (by volume) grocery stores face is in meat, not beer.

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  2. Great, so this bill is based not on things that happened, but on something a teenage kids saw in a movie. Exactly the kind of thing on which legislation should be built. I just hope that it wasn’t from an R rated movie…oh wait a 15 year old could never see one of those…

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  3. Good grief. I’m glad our state legislators have such important things to do.

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  4. So if I go to the grocery store to buy a 6-pack of beer and I go through the U-Scan terminal, I’ll have to show my ID (because I’m over 21). Hmmmm … what’s the point of this bill, again?

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