Lawmakers in Raleigh, North Carolina have introduced a new bill to limit where certain flavored malt beverages may be sold in the state. The proposed measure applies flavored beverages that contain nine to 15 percent alcohol content. The idea is aimed at curbing underage drinking in the state.
The lawmakers believe that the flavored malt beverages, such as Four Loko, Loose and Blast taste too much like soda pop and therefore appeal to people who are under the age of 21–the legal age to possess or drink alcohol in North Carolina. Lawmakers wish to limit the availability of such flavored malt beverages. The bill would make it illegal to sell the beverages anywhere but in North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control stores.
A spokesperson for the North Carolina Alcohol Policy Alliance says that, “Existing flavored alcohol beverages are more popular than beer among teenage girls and represent over 16 percent of the youth alcohol market,” according to WNCN News.
A community advocate who founded Together For Resilient Youth in North Carolina says that limiting sales of the flavored malt beverages to ABC stores will move the sales to a controlled environment. She says that the number one place teens obtain alcohol is through friends or from home. But she says that the number two source of alcohol for underage drinkers is convenience or grocery stores. The bill aims to eliminate non-ABC locations as a potential source for the flavored malt beverages.
The measure passed its first reading in the House last week and was sent to the House Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations.
North Carolina law has many provisions aimed at controlling underage drinking. People under the age of 21 can face criminal charges for allegedly possessing or consuming alcohol. Similarly, people of any age can face charges for providing alcohol to a minor.
Source: WNCT, “Bill aims to curb underage drinking by limiting malt beverage access,” WNCN Staff, April 12, 2013