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Posted 26 Mar 2001   For week ended March 23, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 22Mar01

By Deborah Carl

Olympics Put Pressure on Mormons to Change Utah Liquor Laws

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- "The liquor laws are outmoded and out of date and we must change them if we want to attract international visitors to Utah," says Rocky Anderson, the Mayor of Salt Lake City.

Anderson is working to make alcohol easier to obtain for the influx of visitors expected for the 2001 Winter Olympics, but the campaign is dividing the community. Many residents of Utah belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which opposes the consumption of alcoholic beverages and they do not believe the laws should be relaxed.

"Alcohol kills more people in America than tobacco and we should treat the issue responsibly," said Lane Beattie, former president of the Utah Senate and current governor's representative on the Salt Lake Games organizing committee. "When we got the Games everyone knew the laws here and we were not asked to change them so we shouldn't do so now."

It is possible to get a drink in Utah. All bars are private clubs and require membership to get in, but membership is available at the door for about $5. However, many people in the tourist industry believes this confuses visitors. Also, liquor is available at state liquor stores, but there are about 24 in a 100 mile radius of Salt Lake. Salt Lake City has 8 state liquor stores. Mayor Anderson believes people over 21 should be able to buy wine and beer at the grocery store.

Anderson would also like to abolish some of the by-laws. For example, waiters are not allowed to offer the wine list to diners unless they request it. In some bars locally brewed beer is not available on Sunday, but stronger imported beers are available. Also, a bar tender can be held legally responsible for the death of a driver if he has served him a drink knowing that he was then going to drive.

While many don't want to change the current liquor laws, they do want visitors to know that drinking is not outlawed. There is an old saying in Utah: "If you can't get a drink in Utah then you are simply not thirsty enough."


Mormons under pressure on drink
BBC News 19Mar01 S1


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