Liquor to be sold in grocery stores?

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A proposed legislation would allow grocery store customers to grab a bottle of liquor on a routine trip to Walmart, but those opposing the proposition are worried about how the change might give kids easy access to booze.

While Walmart is supporting the legislation for the change, the Florida Independent Spirits Association is worried that even though Walmart employees card for alcohol sales, their younger cashiers won't be as ready to spot a minor or fake ID.

Florida's liquor laws allow for beer and wine to be sold at supermarkets, but not the hard stuff.

If the new legislation is approved, places like Walmart, as well as other supermarkets, will be able to put a booze aisle next to the produce.

"The biggest concern is access by minors, especially now as we're moving into spring break," said A.J. Smith, a retired Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco Enforcement officer.

Smith said  even though booze is sold in big box stores in other states, it's more dangerous in Florida because of the state's spring break culture.

"Next month is going to start spring break and we're going to see thousands of kids from all over the country here and we have them here all year round, too, because of the climate," A.J. Smith said. "I think our environment is a little bit different."

Big box stores can sell liquor, but customers have to go through a separate entrance. The bill's sponsors say the law is outdated.

"I think it's antiquated, I think it's common sense that a dividing wall in a store that's under the same roof is obviously not needed," said Rep. Jimmie Smith.

Jimmie Smith believes minors aren't as inclined to go for hard liquor.

"You see, anything in reference to alcohol and drinking for minors, it's usually beer," Jimmie said. "If that was true, the wine wouldn't be sold next to the beer as well."

Florida's Independent Spirit Association shrugged off the idea that this is about competition worries. The group said they already compete with supermarkets that have a separate liquor store entrance.

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