Alcopops are sweetened alcoholic beverages, usually sold in single-serving bottles or cans. Often fruit-flavored and/or carbonated, they closely resemble soda or energy drinks. The first generation of alcopops contained about 5% alcohol by volume, but producers keep pushing the alcohol levels--now, many alcopops contain 12% or more ABV.
Recently, a new public health threat emerged: alcopops with high levels of alcohol in supersized containers. These drinks grew in popularity after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to producers of alcoholic energy drinks in late 2010. Unfortunately, the norm for today's caffeine-free alcopops is 24-ounce, single-serving cans with more than double the alcohol content of their predecessors -- containing as much as 4 or more standard drinks. Even without caffeine or other stimulants, these products remain extremely dangerous.
The alcohol industry loves alcopops (a.k.a. “flavored malt beverages,” "progressive malt beverages," or "flavored alcoholic beverages") for several reasons: the drinks are attractive to the young female market; they avoid the higher tax rates for spirits or liquor by being classified as beer; and thus, they can be sold wherever beer is available (convenience and grocery stores, for example). Because they don’t taste, smell, or look like alcohol, alcopops serve as a transition or bridge from soft drinks, especially for young girls. The packaging and promotion of alcopops has led to a misperception these products are “lighter” than other alcohol products, when they contain several times as much alcohol. Youth report drinking alcopops because they are easier to conceal and “go down easy." Meanwhile, alcopops producers easily and constantly fuel underage drinking and related harm.
Alcohol Justice has been tracking the law in 50 states on alcopops classification as a distilled spirit rather than as beer. Click on the map to see what is happening in your state.
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Last updated (Tuesday, 6 July 14:32)