Anniston bans portable coolers of alcohol in businesses
by Patrick McCreless
Jan 27, 2014 | 5301 views |  0 comments | 78 78 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Anniston City Council on Monday unanimously approved an ordinance that one council member says will make it harder for minors to purchase alcohol.

The measure bans the use of portable coolers containing individual alcoholic beverages in local businesses. The goal of the ordinance is to discourage underage drinking.

The coolers in question are typically seen inside service stations, near the front, and they contain individually canned or bottled alcoholic beverages. Councilman Seyram Selase, who proposed the ordinance, has said cashiers sometimes let customers buy the individual beverages without checking their age, thinking one drink is not worth the hassle.

City Manager Brian Johnson said the ordinance is in effect now and will be enforced in the coming weeks.

"We have to make sure our code enforcers and law enforcement know the difference between the coolers out front and one in the back of a business," Johnson said. "There needs to be some in-house training."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who start drinking alcohol before they are 15 years old are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life, compared to those who begin drinking at or after 21 years old.

Selase said he came up with the idea for the ordinance after attending a fellowship of the National Black Caucus at the National League of Citizens conference in July. There, he was paired with Gadsden City Councilman Robert Avery, who spearheaded an anti-cooler ordinance in his city several years ago.

"I want to thank Councilman Avery again for working with the city of Anniston," Selase said. "What better issue to partner on than something that helps our young people?"

Mayor Vaughn Stewart thanked Selase for his efforts.

"I think it's an important subject matter," Stewart said. "But what's also important is when we're using city funds for a councilman to go to a conference, they bring something back ... he brought back ideas to his city."

In other business, the council:

• Approved a request to block certain city streets on April 5 for the YMCA 5K Run.

• Increased the speed limit to 45 mph from 35 mph on Iron Mountain Road.

• Approved a bid for work jeans, tee shirts, jackets and coveralls for employees in the Public Works and Park and Recreation departments.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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