"Alcopops" get around marketing restrictions and target underage drinkers

Earlier this month, I posted information about free webinar entitled "Joe Camel in a Bottle: Alcohol Trends & Update".  I participated in that webinar yesterday and here are a few of my notes along with some presentation slides.

In the United States, underage drinkers make up 10-19% of the alcohol market producing $10-$20Billion in revenue for alcohol producers.  

Increasingly, underage drinkers consume liquor (distilled spirits).  Girls who drink alcohol report that liquor is their alcoholic beverage of choice.  

During the webinar, James Mosher, JD, described the efforts of one company, Diageo, to take advantage of advertising regulations to market to youth.

As the slide below states, beer is less regulated than liquor when it comes to marketing.

"Alcopops" are sweetened alcohol beverages that are usually sold in single-serving bottles or cans.  They are often fruit-flavored and/or bubbly, resembling soft drinks.  Alcopops are popular among young, especially underage, drinkers.  Examples of alcopops are Blast, Smirnoff Ice, Mikes' Hard Lemonade, Four Loko, and Joose.  

Though it might seem like alcopops would be considered liquor, they are in fact categorized as malt beverages like beer.

Though they may start as beer, the vast majority of alcopops get most of their alcohol from the liquor that is added to what is left of the beer.

Though most of the alcohol content in alcopops comes from liquor, they are considered malt beverages which means that they can be marketed like beer.  As noted in the first slide, this means fewer advertising restrictions, more stores selling them, and lower taxes.  All of which have an impact on youth alcohol use.

In Nebraska, the State Supreme Court ruled that alcopops are indeed distilled spirits and must be marketed as such.  Within a month of that ruling, after concerted lobbying by the alcohol industry, the Nebraska Legislature over-ruled the court's decision.  

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