The instances of illicit alcohol sales to youth in B.C. are going down following a successful year for the Minors as Agents program.
In the first year of the program, 344 private liquor stores and 98 government liquor stores were tested, with an overall compliance rate of 87 per cent.
Restricting minors' access to liquor is a public-safety priority because of the serious negative consequences associated with liquor consumption by minors. When minors drink, the risk of them being involved in a vehicle crash, a sexual assault or a physical altercation all increase significantly.
With heavy drinking among youth aged 15 to 24 years approximately three times higher than adults 25 years and older, reducing minors' access to liquor becomes even more important to their safety.
“No one wants to see liquor sold to underage youth, so it's encouraging to see improvements by licensees in reducing the sale of alcohol to minors,” said Minister Rich Coleman in a news release. “I hope initiatives like the Minors as Agents program continue to lower the chances of that happening."
• Liquor stores found, as a result of the Minors as Agents program, to have sold alcohol to a minor have been levied a $7,500 penalty.
• B.C. is the first province to hire minors to test alcohol sales compliance. Employing minors to test tobacco sales was already in place in B.C., and various states in the U.S. already use minors to test underage alcohol sales.
• Government amended the Liquor Control and Licensing Act in 2010 to allow the hiring of minors as agents to purchase alcohol.
• Previously, youthful looking people of legal age were hired to see if liquor stores were asking for identification, however, in this scenario, the store was not breaking the law because the individual was of legal age. The most recent overall compliance rate using this method was 29 per cent.
• Government is looking to expand this program to other types of licensed establishments.
• A full report on the Minors as Agents program can be accessed on the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch website under "Latest News":