This Missouri City Almost Banned The Sale of Mini Booze Bottles
An interesting proposal to ban the sale of those mini booze bottles you can purchase on airplanes and at convenience stores, sometimes called "shooters", was brought up at last night's Joplin City Council meeting.
According to The Joplin Globe, a businessman by the name of Jon Thomas Buck, who also is the founder of Joplin's non-profit Higher Society, is behind the proposal. Higher Society is a group that works on community projects. One of the things they do is pick up trash that litterbugs just throw anywhere, and the little bottles are a big contributor to Joplin's litter problem.
According to The Joplin Globe, Buck says his organization has picked up 50,000 of the mini bottles that litter bugs didn't dispose of properly in the past four months. The newspaper also reports that Buck says they contribute to alcohol abuse, underage drinking, and environmental degradation. Buck is proposing a tax or outright ban on the mini bottles.
Looking to find some independent data on Google that supports Buck's assertions beyond the "shooters" being a rather big litter problem in Joplin, I ran across an article on The Takeout that talks about a similar proposal in Boston. The Takeout summarizes an AP report that highlights Boston council person Ricardo Arroyo's argument for a similar ban or tax. Interestingly, some of the phrasings in The Takeout of Arroyo's plan are very similar to what Buck told the Joplin City Council. They're certainly working off the same script.
The Takeout says Boston liquor store owners and other stakeholders against a ban point to lost profits, people buying and consuming more liquor if they can't buy the mini bottles, not to mention that people will just go to a different town to buy the mini bottles if they can't get them in town. They also suggested a type of bottle deposit, like cities and states have, for pop cans and bottles to reduce litter.
Last fall the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services Commission looked at allowing the sale of mini liquor bottles after banning them nearly three decades ago. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the arguments boiled down to consumers trying small amounts of alcohol without buying a full bottle vs. a way for kids to conceal their underage drinking. According to follow-up reports the Utah Legislature got involved and Utah's DABSC never voted on whether or not to allow the sale of the mini bottles in the state.
I did find another interesting fact on the Sink Law website. At one time in South Carolina bars and restaurants had to use mini bottles to serve mixed drinks to customers. South Carolina changed the law to allow restaurants and bars to free-pour liquor in hopes it would lead to weaker drinks being served, and thus reduce drunk driving problems. It didn't.
That's what I believe the problem might be with banning the "shooters" in Joplin, or any other Missouri town. A ban will probably save 50,000 mini liquor bottles from being tossed out of cars, or left in parks, or gutters. Yet, what about everything else?
Will it reduce drunk driving? Or stop teenagers from drinking alcohol? Or prevent an alcoholic from getting his or her fix? They're nice talking points and give people a high-minded reason beyond curbing litter to support the measure. Yet, these are all larger problems our communities have and I don't think banning mini liquor bottles will solve those issues.
KSN 16 reports that the Joplin City Council didn't act on the matter last night.