To the Editor:
Are Clark County parents aware that numerous alcoholic products on the market today have a unique and compelling appeal to young people? These alcoholic products are packaged to resemble non-alcoholic sodas and energy drinks so that they seem familiar and non-intimidating, and their heavily sweetened, fruity flavor completely masks the taste of alcohol.
Because of their taste and appearance, which eases a young person’s transition to consuming alcohol, they are often called “alcopops.”
Several widely available brands of alcoholic energy drinks with popular flavors such as Watermelon, Blue Raspberry, and Fruit Punch contain as much as 4.7 servings of alcohol in a single 23.5-ounce can — a binge in a can — and are heavily marketed to youth via electronic social media such as Facebook, YouTube, and other websites. They are also price-accessible to youth because they often cost significantly less than their non-alcoholic counterparts.
Kentucky law allows alcopops to be classified as malt beverages, even though much if not most of the alcohol in them actually comes from distilled spirits “flavorings.” As a result, they are taxed at a lower rate than distilled spirits and are sold in convenience stores and grocery stores rather than being limited to liquor stores.
A recent advertisement in The Winchester Sun criticized a past legislative effort to classify “alcopops” as distilled spirits and tax them accordingly. Community efforts to reduce youth access to alcopops and prevent underage drinking are too important to make them part of a taxation tit for tat. Our youth deserve better.
Angela M. Criswell
Enhancement Site Coordinator
Bluegrass Prevention Center