ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A few supermarkets in Anchorage are selling mouthwash from behind the counter to keep people from stealing it to get drunk.
Officials at some Carrs and Fred Meyer grocery stores made the change after police reported seeing empty mouthwash bottles littering homeless camps.
"The community is bellying up to the bar, so to speak, to do their part," said Police Sgt. Denny Allen.
Listerine mouthwash is composed of 26.9 percent alcohol, while a can of Budweiser is 5 percent alcohol.
The Carrs grocery store in Fairview is one of the stores that has made the change. It's also made vanilla extract off-limits without the assistance of an employee.
"It's good for the neighborhood, but it's also good for the individuals who are drinking it," said Fairview Community Council president Darrel Hess. "Drinking mouthwash is not conducive for a long life."
Fred Meyer has stopped selling three varieties of high-alcohol mouthwash at its Muldoon and Midtown stores.
David Pash, who volunteers at a homeless aid shelter, described himself as homeless and an alcoholic in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News.
The 45-year-old said drinking mouthwash makes people sick, but they sometimes buy it because it's cheaper than liquor.
"Especially this summer, you'd see a lot more empty mouthwash bottles laying around on the ground than you would actual liquor bottles," Pash said.
Allen said the numerous bottles of mouthwash he once saw on his rounds have been largely replaced with bottles of a cheap vodka called Monarch and 40-ounce bottles of beer.