San Francisco could ban self-checkout alcohol sales at grocery stores 

click to enlarge Supervisor Eric Mar says his proposed self-checkout kiosk legislation will “make it harder for minors and intoxicated persons to get alcohol.”  (Getty Images file photo) - SUPERVISOR ERIC MAR SAYS HIS PROPOSED SELF-CHECKOUT KIOSK LEGISLATION WILL “MAKE IT HARDER FOR MINORS AND INTOXICATED PERSONS TO GET ALCOHOL.”  (GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO)
  • Supervisor Eric Mar says his proposed self-checkout kiosk legislation will “make it harder for minors and intoxicated persons to get alcohol.” (Getty Images file photo)
  • Supervisor Eric Mar says his proposed self-checkout kiosk legislation will “make it harder for minors and intoxicated persons to get alcohol.” (Getty Images file photo)

New self-checkout kiosks in San Francisco grocery stores could soon become alcohol-free.

Supervisor Eric Mar introduced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit the sale of alcohol at such machines. Instead, the transaction would have to be conducted the old-fashioned way, with a human being. He said the bill is meant to prohibit the sale of alcohol to minors.

Mar’s legislation is similar to a state bill Assemblywoman Fiona Ma introduced that is now sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. He has until Oct. 8 to sign or veto it.

If Ma’s legislation becomes law, Mar’s would be unnecessary.

“This ordinance is a common-sense measure that requires anyone who tries to purchase alcohol to buy through a face-to-face transaction with a cashier,” Mar said. “It’s a simple step which is already required of tobacco, spray paint and some cold medicines.”

But the law seemingly comes with other ramifications. On the state level, it has been described in various media reports as a battle between the labor union representing grocery store clerks, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and grocers such as Fresh & Easy, which is nonunion and uses the self-checkout technology.

In a recent statement, the California Grocers Association denounced the state bill as an attack on nonunion retailers and “stores that use self-checkout have solid protections in place to prevent minors from attempting to purchase alcohol,” which includes the approval of a clerk before booze purchases go through.

But Mar said there are ways youths are beating the system, such as changing bar codes.

“It will make it harder for minors and intoxicated persons to get alcohol,” he said.

If enacted by the Board of Supervisors, the law would only affect future self-checkout kiosks.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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