Victory over alcopops, liquor industry targeting of teens

Never doubt that you, as a Speak Outer, are having a positive impact. Further proof: the recent victory over the purveyors of booze, who have been foisting colorful sugary, fruity drinks, laced with distilled spirits, on our youth.
The drinks, known as “alcopops,” include popular brands like Smirnoff Ice, Seagram’s Coolers, Bacardi Silver and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. The liquor industry wants kids to develop a drinking habit linked to their corporate brand, then graduate to increasingly harder–and more expensive–booze. So they diabolically concocted a way to make liquor–which normally tastes yucky to kids—appeal to young palates.
Teenagers themselves scored a huge win Tuesday when the state Board of Equalization voted 3-2 to treat the flavored malt beverages as distilled spirits, rather than beer, for tax purposes. Democratic BOE Board Members John Chiang, Judy Chu, and Betty Yee voted for the tax increase. Republican BOE members, who have received hefty contributions from the alcohol and brewery industries as well as convenience stores that profit from selling alcopops, voted no.
A large coalition of teenagers, parents, the PTA, religious and faith-based groups, the Girl Scouts, and health and safety advocates supported the tax change. The increased taxes, from 20 cents per gallon to $3.30 per gallon, will increase the tax on a single 12-oz. bottle of alcopops from 2 cents to 31 cents. Experts predict that the increased taxes will restrict availability by limiting where the alcopops are sold and also shrink the market, since teens tend to be very price-sensitive shoppers. In turn, reduced access to the sugary drinks will prevent teen pregnancies, alcoholism, injuries, violence, and deaths linked to drinking.
The decision makes California the second state, after Maine, to reclassify alcopops as distilled spirits.
At critical moments, when BOE Board Members Chu, Chiang, and Yee were running for office, and faced scurrilous attacks funded by the tobacco and liquor industries, Speak Out exposed their hidden agenda and kept you up to date on the money trail. By clicking onto Speak Out’s website, you got up-to-date info that helped make the candidates’ records and priorities clear, and helped make this sweet victory possible.
Kudos to BOE Board Members John Chiang, Judy Chu, and Betty Yee for standing up for REAL family values!
More info about alcopops can be found at the website for the Marin Institute, at