On July 31, 2008, at 10 a.m., the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission will hear public testimony regarding the classification of products know as alcopops. Their decision on how to classify the products will ultimately impact youth access and availability of these kid-friendly alcoholic drinks.
Inappropriately classifying alcopops as beer leads to wider availability of the products, lower prices and increased advertising. These are all significant factors when it comes to reaching underage drinkers. Alcopops are fueling the epidemic of underage drinking, especially among young girls.
Not only does the current classification of alcopops put Nebraska youth in danger, but it is placing an unnecessary economic burden on our state. Alcopops are currently being regulated and taxed as beer, resulting in a $2 million loss in revenue each year. Meanwhile, the alcohol industry continues to profit from this misclassification at the expense of Nebraska's youth.
Underage drinking is an issue that begs to be addressed, not worsened through poor policy decisions. According to the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of Nebraska Adolescents, nearly one in every three Nebraska high school students was a binge drinker in the past 30 days. In addition, among students who drank alcohol during the past 30 days, the type of alcohol they most commonly drank was liquor 34 percent of the time and beer 33 percent of the time. It's time for the Liquor Control Commission to recognize alcopops for what they are and classify them as distilled spirits to help protect young people.