SAN RAFAEL, Calif., March 5, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Alcohol Justice commended the California Department of Public Health today for their valuable new study on the availability of healthy vs. unhealthy products – including alcopops – in retail stores throughout the state. At the same time the nonprofit renewed its call for voluntary Alcopop-Free Zones in every city, county and town to protect youth.
"This survey released today validates that alcopops are widely available along with other harmful products like cigarettes and sugary beverages in most retail stores," said Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO of Alcohol Justice. "Alcopops are especially appealing to youth and shockingly are available in 56% of all stores in the State of California, while low fat or non-fat milk is only available in 37% of all stores."
Alcopops, referred to as "flavored malt beverages" (FMBs) in most state codes, appeal to youth through cheap pricing, high alcohol content, soda-like flavor and marketing, and availability where beer is sold. Alcopops are often the first drink for teenagers, as one-third of teenage girls ages 12 to 18 and one-fifth of teenage boys have tried an alcopops product. The industry markets alcopop products specifically to teens and youth, using the sickly sweet, bubbly "transitional beverages" to hook them on alcohol early, and secure customers for life.
In May of 2013, Alcohol Justice released a report entitled "Alcopops Cheaper than Energy Drinks: 7-Eleven Gambles with Children's Lives" which surveyed all 7-Eleven stores in northern California's Marin County, an area plagued with excessive youth alcohol consumption.
"Alcopops are just too good of a deal for kids to pass up," said Holley Shafer, research analyst at Alcohol Justice and co-author of the report. "We found that the availability of cheap single-serving supersized alcopops like Four Loko at 7-Eleven stores made them even more compelling to youth than comparable non-alcoholic energy drinks."
The Department's first ever study in the nation study looked at 7,000 stores in California to assess availability and marketing of tobacco, alcohol and foods. With regard to alcohol in general, and alcopops specifically, the findings are monumental. Importantly, alcopops availability, alcohol availability and storefront advertising can now be compared at the county level with the availability of tobacco and sugary products and the lack of availability of fresh foods and health alternatives.
Alcohol Justice is calling upon public health oriented groups and individuals in every city, town and county to push for support of the establishment of Alcopop-Free Zones where retailers voluntarily remove the youth-attractive products from their shelves. Youth for Justice, a project of Alcohol Justice, has been leading the innovative Alcopop-Free Zone campaign in the Canal neighborhood of San Rafael, California for the past two years and has succeeded in a marked neighborhood reduction of alcopop sales.
"Every municipality and city needs to rapidly support Alcopop-Free Zone resolutions to ally with community leaders and youth, asking retailers to voluntarily stop selling those products," said Livingston. "The alcopop product line is a pipeline to binge drinking for youth."
In the spring of 2012, the Marin County Board of Supervisors passed the country's first Alcopop-Free Zone Resolution of Support. In early September that year the San Rafael City Council approved an Alcopop-Free Zone Resolution of Support. In November of 2012, the Tiburon Town Council and the Novato City Council unanimously approved Resolutions of Support urging alcohol retailers in those communities to stop selling alcopops. Various retailers in the Marin communities of San Rafael, Stinson Beach and Bolinas have already pulled most alcopops from their store shelves.
Michael Scippa: 415 548-0492
Jorge Castillo: 213 840-3336
SOURCE Alcohol Justice