California will no longer allow alcohol sales through self-checkouts, under a bill signed into law late Sunday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Ma cited a a 2009 UCLA study that showed 20 percent of young adults were able to override a self-service checkout by scanning other items and/or swiping credit cards. She also noted underage drinkers consumed nearly 14 percent of all alcohol sold in California in 2007, totaling $3.6 billion in sales. The bill was sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Professional Firefighters.
“AB 183 garnered wide-spread support from law enforcement because it closes a door for minors wanting to obtain alcohol,” Ma said Monday. “The Governor’s signature will ensure that alcohol is treated no differently than tobacco and spray paint.”
The bill’s opponents – including the California Grocers Association and the Fresh & Easy grocery chain, which relies on self-checkouts as a key part of its business model – said self-checkout stations already have lock-out mechanisms preventing customers from buying alcohol without a clerk verifying the buyer’s age and finalizing the purchase, making this bill a fix in search of a problem. They said it’s just a sop to labor unions that don’t want people replaced by bar-code scanners.
“We are disappointed that politics has prevailed over solid judgment,” Fresh & Easy spokesman Brendan Wonnacott said Monday. “Despite the intentions of the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) and its allies in the Legislature, this bill will not stop Fresh & Easy’s efforts to bring fresh, wholesome and affordable food to more Californians. We are continuing our expansion and look forward to creating more jobs in neighborhoods throughout the state.”