From: Department of Liquor Control, April 8, 2003
To: Mr. Bruce Cunningham
301 Seneca Creek Road
Hinesburg, VT 05461
Dear Mr. Cunningham:
On behalf of the Liquor Control Board, please allow me to express my sincere appreciation for your presentation during the Liquor Control Board meeting on March 26, 2003. The Board appreciates your diligent efforts in limiting youth access to tobacco products in Vermont.
While the Department of Liquor Control agrees that Act 58 requires a ninety percent compliance rate by tobacco licensees, the Liquor Control Board strongly believes that the overall objective of that legislation is being met. In the Boardís opinion, the overall objective is to increase the rate of compliance among tobacco licensees, thereby limiting the availability of tobacco products to underage customers. The Liquor Control Board prefers to focus on the Departmentís successes in limiting youth access to tobacco. The Vermont Department of Liquor Control has achieved some of the top compliance figures among those states with comparable data.
The statistical data you presented as part of your testimony on March 26th was that of a suburb in Illinois, a small town that has had recent success in improving its compliance statistics regarding tobacco sales to minors. The success of a town however laudable that success may be, cannot be statistically compared to the level of commitment required to maintain and improve compliance figures across an entire state. If we are going to compare Vermontís compliance figures, we must, at the very least, compare scientifically comparable data. When Vermontís compliance record is compared to that of other states the success of this Departmentís educational programs, compliance efforts and enforcement techniques speak for themselves.
The Department utilizes the expertise of sixteen liquor control investigators; these sixteen men and women are charged with the task of educating and policing the entire state of Vermont for both tobacco and alcohol compliance. They do a remarkable job with the resources allocated to this Department and the Liquor Control Board applauds their efforts and their accomplishments. Although the Department of Liquor Control would like to have the flexibility in its budget to prioritize tobacco compliance, the fact is that our mission reaches far beyond that goal. The Department must always perform its duties within the framework of fiscal responsibility, in addition to social responsibility, and the Liquor Control Board supports the current approach to that balance.
Mr. Cunningham, you seem to operate under the misconception that a ninety percent compliance rate is the goal of this Department. Allow me to respectfully assure you that the goal of the Department is one hundred percent compliance! We perceive the goal as a challenge that this Department strives to meet each and every day. Thank you for your time and attention.
Daniel J. OíBrien
Chairman, Liquor Control Board
CC:††††† Lloyd A. Kelley, Jr., Liquor Control Board Member
††††††††††† Harry L. Daniels, Liquor Control Board Member
††††††††††† Michael J. Hogan, Commissioner, Vermont Department of Liquor Control