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Urban Outfitters is known for selling controversial merchandise. But its latest product line has ventured into a new realm: a series of medical-themed drinking products that includes prescription shot glasses, pint glasses, and syringe shot-shooters. A sleeve designed to hold a can of beer resembles a prescription medicine bottle, with the following content listed on the Rx label:
Drug name: Beer.
Quantity: As much as you can stomach.
Instructions: Take one can by mouth. Repeat until intoxicated.
Shot glasses with a big Rx logo on the front repeat these same instructions.
Many individuals and groups are upset about a teen-focused company selling products with prescription drug imagery, and rightfully so. But there is an important, and glaring, additional danger with Urban Outfitters' new line that must be called to the forefront as well. These products are not only promoting, normalizing, and downright giggling about youth using prescription drugs. By using shot and pint glasses and other alcohol products labeled with prescription language, they are promoting alcohol as the self-prescribed drug of choice.
Urban Outfitters claims that its target customer is between the ages of 18 and 30 - a demographic that contains both underage youth, for whom the supposed "directions" for using the alcohol paraphernalia are illegal, and young people who by definition are at higher risk for drinking, drinking more, and experiencing alcohol-related harm. These products promote drinking as not only cool and normal behavior for youth, but also a legitimate anecdote to one’s problems. The prescription beer can sleeve labeled “Liquid Happiness 12oz” tells youth directly that alcohol should be consumed in order to feel good.
Guess we shouldn't be too surprised by this latest atrocity, when another Urban Outfitters product is a flask that screams F- MY LIVER.
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Next time anyone in New York, New Jersey, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina, or Connecticut goes to grab a bottle of water from the cooler, they'd better triple-check to make sure they don't accidentally get a fruity drink with 7% alcohol by volume. That's right, we're talking about a new alcopop product, designed to resemble the most popular of all beverages: water. After finding that markets for alcopops that look like sodas, juice pouches, and even popsicles were all spoken for, an alcohol producer stepped in to take it where no self-respecting company had dared to go.Last Updated ( Friday, 26 April 2013 14:10 )
Mojo Alternative Malt Beverages comes in various fruit flavors - Tropical Fruit, Strawberry Kiwi, and Fruit Punch - and its packaging is almost indistinguishable from popular flavored waters like Vitamin Water and Hint. In true traditional alcopop form, the added sugar masks the alcohol taste, carbonation is added to make it fizzy, and it's cheap. The producer, Blue Spike Beverages, touts the plastic water bottle packaging as a design to ensure "no breakage when you're out tearing it up on the dance floor." Blue Spike also touts the resealable bottle for decreasing spillage (take note, FTC). Young people are already proclaiming it "the chick drink of the future" for being cheap and tasting "like slurpees." Its U.S. distributor, Irokos Group LLC, admitted the drink was designed for the female market, and the bottle made very slim for that purpose.
Should drinkers feel like a youth-friendly alcopop drink is beneath them, Blue Spike also makes theMojo Shot product line of spirits - currently available in Rhode Island and Massachusetts convenience stores.
Fortunately, at least one state has caught on to Mojo alcopop and its bottled-water resemblance. The New Hampshire Liquor Commission recently decided to deny a license to bring the product into the state, with liquor officials warning that "[t]hese products are clear liquid, resembling water and are packaged in containers that resemble specialty water products...The lettering stating alcohol content and alcohol percentage are not easily seen and the container could easily be thought to contain non-alcoholic product." Still, at least six states have agreed to allow Mojo so far, and others may follow suit. Instead of simply rubber-stamping Mojo and other youth-oriented product entries into stores, we hope other states will follow New Hampshire's example. State alcohol commissions can, and should, put their foot down and halt products with marketing, packaging, and characteristics that cross the line of public safety. Add a comment
A new report has put a price tag on the annual cost of excessive drinking in Wisconsin, estimating that it costs the state $6.8 billion a year. The study, conducted and published by Health First Wisconsin, totaled drinking-related costs in the areas of health care, criminal justice, lost workplace productivity, and at home. The figure amounts to the equivalent of $1200 per year per Wisconsin resident, and taxpayers end up absorbing approximately $2.9 billion of the total costs. Examples of alcohol-related harm contributing to the cost in 2011 included more than 1,500 deaths, nearly 50,000 hospitalizations, and more than 46,000 treatment admissions. The new Wisconsin study is similar to the Alcohol Justice report, The Annual Catastrophe of Alcohol Use in California, available here.
In the last few weeks, support for marriage equality rolled through Facebook and prompted millions of users to change their profile pictures to the red and pink equality symbol from the Human Rights Campaign. Unfortunately, A-B InBev has taken an important social movement and turned it into just another opportunity to make money from its products that cause so much harm, especially for the LGBT community. The Belgian beer conglomerate altered the HRC's logo to highlight two Bud Light beer cans, then posted the doctored image to the Bud Light official Facebook page.
While A-B InBev taking every possible opportunity to promote its brands is neither surprising nor anything new, this particular move seems like even more of a slick grab for attention that degrades the millions of Americans who are fighting for the issue of marriage equality on a real, substantive level. (Even more embarrassing for the conglomerate is the fact that A-B InBev is not even among the list of 278 major employers who filed a brief publicly opposing DOMA and argued that it is bad for business.)
Obviously there is no limit to A-B InBev's audacity and the lengths it will go to promote its products. While it co-opts the HRC marriage equality logo for Bud Light, alcohol and related harm continues to be a major health concern for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, especially LGBT youth. And A-B InBev still remains a primary sponsor of the UFC, whose president and various "athletes" came under fire last year for homophobic, sexist, violent, and derogatory remarks.
Equality? Human rights? Not so much.
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