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Liquor industry, Mormons tangle

Saturday, November 24, 2001

SALT LAKE CITY -- Tension in Utah is building between the liquor industry and statewide Mormon sensibilities -- increasing in the past few years with the approach of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Seventy percent of Utah's 2.1 million people are members of the Mormon church, which shuns alcohol. And the state's liquor laws reflect that.

Utah law requires bars, called private clubs here, to sell individual annual memberships of at least $12 before a person can get a drink. Liquor stores must be state-run and are not open on Sundays.

But with the Olympics coming to town in February, a small but vocal minority of brewers and bar owners is hoping to make money on the tourist trade by easing or subverting the liquor laws.

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