March 21, 2013. Our alcohol control system in North Carolina is top notch. Our ABC liquor sales system generates more revenue than 90% of the states and we have among the lowest drinking rates in the country. Today the ABC Commission reminded us again of its great value in rejecting a product that would have been dangerous in formula, packaging and placement.
“I loved hearing ABC Commission Chairman, Jim Gardner, say that he is personally passionate about underage drinking prevention, has 3 granddaughters, and that the Commission is going to look very seriously at issues related to underage drinking,” said Karen Webb with Alamance Drug Free Coalition.
Various North Carolina organizations and citizens, including members of the NC Alcohol Policy Alliance, an advocacy group representing 23 counties across the state, presented to the ABC Commission on Wednesday, March 20th to urge them to reject the approval of a new and dangerous alcohol product that is described as a “shot in a tube.”
Stout is a new alcoholic beverage available in various flavors and packaged in a 3 ounce, easily concealable tube. This small tube contains 15% alcohol by volume– the equivalent of one 12 ounce beer. Due to the packaging and rounded bottom, consumption through any other method than “shot-style” would be difficult. Had this product been approved, it would be sold in convenience and grocery stores, or anywhere else beer is sold. Ronald E. Bogle, Retired Superior Court Judge said, “I am very pleased by the wise unanimous decision of the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Clearly, they believed Stout was a threat to underage drinkers, and would likely be their primary market. The commission did the right thing.”
“Since legislation was passed in 2006 increasing the amount of alcohol that products marketed as malt beverages can contain (from 6%-15%), there has been an influx of Flavored Alcohol Beverages (FABs) popular among youth”, said Reverend Creech with the Christian Action League. These products have taken various forms from bottles to 24 ounce cans, containing sugar and flavorings, none more egregious than Stout.
Existing flavored alcohol beverages are more popular than beer among teenage girls and represent over 16% of the youth alcohol market. “Products packaged like this are highly attractive to youth consumers” said Wanda Boone with Durham Together for Resilient Youth (T.R.Y). “Additionally, these products put our low wealth communities in great harm. These communities that already have high concentrations of alcohol outlets (convenience stores), increased rates of crime and chronic disease, do not need another dangerous alcoholic product to worsen the myriad problems that exist.”
Among youth who report regular alcohol consumption (defined as at least one drinking episode in the past 30 days), almost two thirds (64%) report regular use of FABs. “These flavored alcohol items like Stout seem tailor-made for a youth market, and that concerns addiction professionals a great deal. Studies show that those who begin drinking before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol abuse or dependence later in life than those who wait until 21,” said Mark Ezzell, Executive Director with the Addiction Professionals of North Carolina.
While rejecting this new product is an enormous success in protecting our youth, there are dozens of Flavored Alcohol Beverages already in the marketplace that are incredibly dangerous to youth. Along with other public health organizations, the North Carolina Alcohol Policy Alliance looks forward to working with the NC ABC Commission and other state leaders to address the dangers these products pose to our children.