Sample Letter to the Editor #2:
Keg Registration (long)

Dear Editor,

Our [state legislature/city council] is currently considering instituting keg registration as a way to reduce underage and binge drinking. As a member of the [Coalition to Reduce High Risk Drinking], I wholly support this legislation. It is an important step toward creating a safer, healthier environment here in [Anytown].

Without a doubt, beer kegs are a prime source of alcohol for those under 21. Only one person at the party actually has to purchase the keg or kegs, meaning that the dozens drinking from them don’t have the hassle of either trying to buy beer themselves or finding an adult to buy it for them. As it is now, law enforcement is faced with the almost impossible task of tracking down the purchaser of the keg when they are called to a disorderly party or are investigating a drunk driving crash or other incident.

Because of the cheap price and mass quantity, kegs also encourage binge drinking, which continues to be a problem here. In a recent survey, xx% of students under age 21 reported having engaged in binge drinking during the past month. And this type of dangerous drinking is generally the culprit in drunken driving, vandalism and assaults, not to mention the cause of alcohol poisoning of the young people involved. The [Anytown] hospital reported treating xx people for alcohol poisoning last year.

Below are some answers to questions I have heard regarding the impact of keg registration here in [Anytown]:

How does keg registration work? Kegs are required to be marked with an identification number. At the time the keg is purchased, the retailer is required to record the keg ID number, the purchaser’s name, address, telephone number and driver’s license number. Usually a deposit is required, to reduce the chance that the keg is not returned. If there are any problems associated with either the party or the individuals involved with that keg, police can trace the keg purchase and purchaser.

How will registering kegs reduce underage and binge drinking? Adults who buy kegs for underage drinkers may not be deterred unless they believe they will face legal or financial consequences. Keg registration will discourage those over 21 from buying kegs for underage drinkers, or serving underage drinkers, because they now can be held accountable, both for underage service and possibly for damages caused by those served. It also makes it much harder for underage people to buy kegs themselves.

Won’t those under 21 always be able to get beer anyway? It is true that young people find it relatively easy to get alcohol: xx% of those under 21 say it is easy or very easy to obtain alcohol in our community. What reducing underage access to kegs will do is reduce the total amount that is drunk. Young people are particularly sensitive to pricing, meaning the cheaper the beer the more they’ll drink. Reducing the chance that underage people could make a single purchase and buy gallons of alcohol for less than the cost of pop will help reduce the amount that they will drink. This will also reduce the second-hand effects: research shows that the younger the drinker, the more they are affected by alcohol, and the more likely they are to be involved in a drunk driving crash or other alcohol-related incident.

Is keg registration too big a burden on retailers? Some retailers may resist keg registration, saying it’s more paperwork for them. The fact is many already require a deposit and identification at the time of keg purchase to insure the return of the keg and tap. And their own liability would be reduced, because they would have proof in the case of any incidents involving the keg that the person they sold to was 21 or older.

Requiring keg registration sends a message to young people that our community takes alcohol misuse seriously. We know it alone won’t solve the problem, but it will help reduce consumption and increase responsibility of those involved in the sale and service of alcohol.

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