Reclassify Alcopops

It is difficult to miss “alcopops” in grocery stores — they are sweet alcoholic beverages, usually fluorescent in color, and marketed primarily to girls. Many allege that these beverages disguise the taste of alcohol, while still fuelling intoxication. While containing liquor, alcopops are sold in the beer aisle of most grocery stores, blurring the distinction between hard alcohol and beer and more concerning, making them more accessible to true underage individuals. Alcopops serve as a tool of intoxication rather than appreciation, and mix sweet, often caffeinated substances with alcohol as a means of facilitating that process.

Recently, many have called for a recategorization of alcopops as liquor rather than beer, enabling an alcohol tax and transferring the purchase of these substances to designated liquor establishments. We at Choose Responsibility strongly support these efforts, and believe that alcopops help encourage binge drinking and run counter to the goals of alcohol education.

 Another camp wants to legally define alcopops as beer rather than liquor on the basis of taxation and regulation. Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland endorses such a bill in his state, thereby pandering to the alcohol industry and helping to further the problem of binge drinking amongst young adults.

 As more states take on the issue of Alcopops, we encourage you to voice your concerns about the implications of maintaining the status quo.

3 Responses to “Reclassify Alcopops”

  1. Chris Says:

    I have to partially disagree with you guys on this one. While I do believe any alcohol should be restricted to bars or liquor establishments designed to sell such goods, I don’t feel these alcopops should be classified as hard liquor and/or taxed as such. I’m only turning 20 this weekend, but I’ve had the privilege of consuming these drinks legally both in Canada and in my house here in Maryland where under-21s can consume alcohol when parents are around. While I agree that the fruity flavor of the drinks encourages more consumption, I don’t see how that’s any different than beer. I thought the whole point of this movement was to teach alcohol consumption in moderation, irrespective of any outside pressures or flavors. Even if you look at many of these drinks, the alcohol content is less or equal to that of beer, and in some cases (such as with Mike’s Hard Lemonade) the alcohol base is beer that’s watered down with the other fruit flavors. I really don’t see how the flavor or appeal of the beverage should dictate its classification.

    Changing the classification or tax rate isn’t much different than the drinking age; it’s simply trying to divert the problem instead of fixing it at the core.

  2. Adam Says:

    I am disappointed that Choose Responsibility has taken this stance against flavored malt beverages (I prefer this industry term over what I can only assume is the MADD originated “alcopops”). Choose Responsibility should teach that alcohol can be consumed responsibly no matter its cost or availability. Taxing alcohol at a higher rate and restricting its access is a neo-prohibitionist strategy, not a responsible consumption strategy. Prohibition taught us that restrictions on alcohol’s availability do not stop excessive consumption. As Prof. David J. Hanson, Ph.D. of the State University of New York, Potsdam teaches, alcohol is “not a poison and it’s not a magic elixir that can solve peoples’ problems. It’s how alcohol is used that is important.”

  3. Lew Bryson Says:

    Make that three of us; this is a disappointing and poorly considered stance that looks disturbingly like a sop thrown to anti-alcohol types. The Federal Trade Commission found no evidence that flavored malt beverages were marketed to underage drinkers. I myself can’t see any evidence to support your allegation — no, your flat statement — above that these drinks are “marketed primarily to girls.” That’s something I’d expect to hear from PIRE or CSPI, not CR.

    ATTTB regs require that these drinks be malt-based to qualify for malt beverage taxation rates; California has chosen to ignore that guidance and tax them as liquor anyway. (Let’s leave out the nonsense behind different taxation rates for spirits, wine, and beer: it’s all alcohol, after all.)

    When it comes to sweet drinks, what’s the difference between one of these drinks and a rum and coke? Boone’s Farm? An Irish coffee? All sweet, but no one’s singling them out. Why not?

    Please reconsider your position. Arbitrary restrictions like these are the very worst kind of alcohol law…much like pegging the LDA at 21 instead of 18.