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Underage Teen Buys Liquor At 3 B.C. Stores

Some private and government liquor stores in Metro Vancouver are selling to teens despite promises to toughen screening for underage customers, a CBC News investigation has found.

High school student Danielle Kyei, who at 17 is two years too young to legally buy alcohol in B.C, agreed to participate in the investigation.

She was sold wine in two private North Vancouver retail outlets without being asked for proof of age.

“It was very easy,” Kyei said.

The same private retailers — Everything Wine and Avalon Beer and Wine — also sold wine to an underage buyer in a CBC News investigation in October 2010, and vowed at the time to increase their vigilance.

“If I can walk in and grab something in five minutes, then clearly they haven't changed," said Kyei.

Retailers caught selling to minors can be fined $7,500 or handed a 10-to-14 day suspensions.

Government conducts tests

After the 2010 investigation, the B.C. government also started using teenage secret shoppers to test the system

A recent test involving one quarter of all private and public liquor outlets in the province turned up one sale to a minor at a government store, but 32 to minors at private stores.

That's a failure rate of two per cent for government outlets compared to 18 per cent for private stores.

However, in the latest test by CBC News Kyei was able buy a bottle unchallenged at a North Vancouver government liquor store on Westview Drive.

When contacted by CBC News and told of the test results, a representative for Avalon Beer and Wine said the company will be talking to staff.

An Everything Wine spokesperson was concerned about the failure of its staff to spot the underage shopper, using words like “inexcusable,” “embarrassed” and “horrified.”

"We've got to do a better job," the spokesperson said.

The provincial minister responsible for B.C. liquor stores, Rich Coleman, issued a statement late Tuesday, saying the CBC's findings would be investigated.

"The province checks on all complaints of liquor being sold to a minor and will be following up on the stores tested by the CBC," said Coleman. Kyei handed over all the wine she bought to a CBC News staff member.

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