Out-of-state liquor store ads

  • Aug 14, 2014

Melissa Melewsky, Media Law Counsel

Q:  An out-of-state liquor store wants to advertise in our paper.  The store is on the Pennsylvania border, and its alcohol selection is extensive and well-priced.  Can we accept ads for out-of-state liquor stores?

A:  PNA generally advises Pennsylvania newspapers against accepting ads for out-of-state liquor stores because it may result in the imposition of criminal or civil penalties against your readers.  At the same time, if you have readership outside of the Commonwealth, the ads may be directly relevant to those readers. 

Under Pennsylvania law, it is illegal in most circumstances for consumers to bring alcohol into the state.  Section 491(11) of the Liquor Code prohibits any person, other than the Liquor Control Board, a manufacturer, or the holder of a sacramental wine license or importer's license, from bringing liquor, including wine, into Pennsylvania. See 47 P.S. § 4-491(11). Furthermore, section 491(2) prohibits any entity, other than those listed above, from possessing or transporting any liquor or alcohol within the Commonwealth that was not purchased from a Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits Shoppe or limited winery. See 47 P.S. § 4-491(2).  Violators are subject to fines and confiscation of the alcohol.  You can find a Q & A on this issue from the PA Liquor Control Board here, although please note that the state police enforce these laws, not the LCB.

Based on the above, PNA’s general advice to members is not to accept out-of-state liquor store ads.  This advice could be affected, however, by a newspaper’s out-of-state editions or readership.

As always, this is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice.  Please contact your newspaper’s attorney or the Legal Hotline at (717) 703-3080 with questions.


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