Point-click-drink: It's that easy for teens
The Internet is providing a new avenue for underage drinking. Results
of a new survey confirm that millions of teenagers either buy alcohol
online or know an underage friend who does.
A related audit of states shows that many state legislators are easing
restrictions on online alcohol sales with little monitoring or
"This is a dangerous situation," said Stan Hastings chairman of the
Wine and Spirits Wholesales of America, Inc. (WSWA), the trade group
that commissioned the survey.
"For the first time, we have hard evidence that millions of kids are
buying alcohol online and that the Internet is fast becoming a
high-tech, low-risk way for kids to get beer, wine and liquor
delivered to their home with no ID check," Hastings said in a
The survey results are "alarming," he added, "because state
legislators are rushing to allow wine and other online alcohol sales
at a time we know regulatory agencies are telling us they are unable
to monitor these types of sales because they lack manpower and
Conducted in 2006 by Teenage Research Unlimited, the survey of a
nationally representative sample of 1,001 young people between the
ages of 14 and 20 years revealed that 2 percent (representing 551,000
nationally) reported having personally bought alcohol online.
Moreover, 12 percent, equivalent to 3.1 million minors, report having
a friend who has ordered alcohol online.
The survey also shows that alcohol purchased online is shared among
friends. Roughly 3 percent of 14- to 20-year-olds (equivalent to
735,000 nationally) admit to drinking alcohol purchased by someone
else online or by phone.
And more than half of those with friends who have obtained alcohol
illegally online or by phone say those friends share it (80 percent),
drink it themselves (79 percent), or give to another underage person
Researchers warn that as awareness and exposure to online alcohol
sales increases, even more minors can be expected to buy beer, wine,
and liquor on the Internet unless steps are taken today to address the
This is consistent with a 2003 National Academy of Sciences report
that concluded that minors are buying alcohol over the Internet and
that increasing use of the Internet will make this problem worse in
Compounding the problem, at least 20 states passed laws expanding
online sales of alcohol in the past year, according to WSWA.
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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