A bad idea: Here’s why the laws in Pa. shouldn’t be changed to allow beer sales on every corner

June 28th, 2018

By Dean I Weitzman, Esq.


There’s yet another effort underway in the state Legislature to try to change the decades-old laws that forbid beer sales in convenience stores and grocery stores across the Commonwealth.

Right now, you also can’t buy a six-pack of beer in a beer distributor in Pennsylvania — you can only buy a full case by law. You are, however, able to buy individual six-packs of beer from bars and restaurants that have liquor licenses which permit them to make such sales.

According to a story this week in The Philadelphia Inquirer, state  Sen. John C. Rafferty Jr., a Montgomery County Republican, is the latest state lawmaker to try his hand at expanding the legal sale of individual six-packs through beer distributors and grocery and convenience stores across the state, arguing that it’s about “consumer choice” and opening up freer competition for beer sales. Some convenience store executives, including Stan Sheetz, the CEO of the Sheetz convenience store chain, support the idea, according to the Inquirer. “We support this bill because it treats adults like adults and it protects the rights of beer drinkers,” Sheetz told the paper at a rally held in Harrisburg to promote the effort. His company has tried in the past to gain permission to sell individual six-packs of beer but has been stymied in the courts. That hasn’t deterred his company, however.  “Our beer laws are backward, they’re counter-intuitive, they’re inefficient, and they’re hypocritical,” he told the Inquirer.

beer six pack feb 18 2010 iStock 000009130479XSmall

Image credit: ©

Well, he just may be right about Pennsylvania’s beer sale laws. They may truly be backward and counter-intuitive and inefficient and even hypocritical. But that’s fine, because they’re also smart. There are already plenty of places to buy beer here, at beer distributors by the case and in bars and restaurants by the six-pack.  No one who wants to buy beer is being denied the opportunity to buy the stuff.  But we certainly don’t need to make beer sales available at every street corner of every town and city across this state. We’ve got enough problems with under-aged drinking, drunk driving, alcohol-related crimes and other social ills caused by alcohol abuse.

Make it easier to buy and consume beer across the state just to allow a bigger revenue stream for stores and beer companies? That just doesn’t make sense from any standpoint at all.  It’s not an idea that would get a great reception from groups that are fighting these same kinds of problems every day, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

That would be a decision that would likely mean more alcohol-related vehicle accidents, crimes and incidents of under-aged drinking.

It’s a bad idea, a terrible precedent and an idea with no social merit. In fact, it’s irresponsible and wrong.

We need more libraries on street corners, more senior centers, more drug and alcohol treatment programs and more youth centers.

What we don’t need are more places to buy beer.

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