Meister suggests more focus on prevention, diversion to curb und - kotanow.com- Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Meister suggests more focus on prevention, diversion to curb underage drinking

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A local coalition against underage drinking is working to make it more difficult for minors to procure alcohol, and one of those ways could be through raising the taxes on alcohol.

Scottsbluff attorney and legislative candidate Mike Meister was a special guest at Tuesday's Monument Prevention Coalition meeting.

Meister says he has a unique perspective on the issue because he used to have a liquor license, "so I can see it from both sides of the aisle," he says.

"I think sometimes we get too hung up on enforcement and punishment and not enough on the prevention side of things," Meister said. "You can point at statistics and say, 'well, we got this many M.I.P's (Minor in Possession) but is that really a good thing?"

Meister says the focus needs to shift from punishment and enforcement to prevention and diversion. 

To do that, Meister outlined a list of suggests to the Coalition:

-Taxing policies on alcohol: "If you increase the price on alcohol, you make it less likely that people can afford it."
-Change enforcement methods against servers and businesses: Meister says many businesses ho are caught selling to minors simply write a check to the liquor commission to avoid harsher penalties.
-Re-examine fines and fees placed on businesses caught serving to minors
-Make servers financially responsible if caught serving to minors: no umbrella protection, "The server should feel the economic consequence for serving to a minor," Meister said. "By doing that, it prevents minors from buying by making adults more responsible."

Meister says raising taxes on alcohol and raising fees to make businesses more accountable when they're caught selling alcohol to a minor can have a significant impact.

"My focus would be more on the diversion side of things, more on the prevention side of things. But I think the way you do that is you make the liquor store licensees more accountable to the public at large, and you make it more difficult for kids to get their hands on alcohol."

Meister says there are too many benefits to raising the price of alcohol to not peruse the legislation if he is elected as a state Senator this November.

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