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Country’s First Alcopop-Free Zone Supported by Marin County Supervisors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                      
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         Contact: Michael Scippa 415-548-0492 
  Jorge Castillo 213 840-3336

 

Country’s First Alcopop-Free Zone Supported by Marin County Supervisors
 

United Market Volunteers to be First Alcohol Retailer
 
 to Reject All Youth-Attractive Alcopops


 
SAN RAFAEL, CA  (May 8, 2012) – Marin County Board of Supervisors took a bold and unprecedented first step today towards protecting the county’s young people from alcopops.  Supervisor Judy Arnold introduced the country’s first resolution of support encouraging alcoholic product retailers to voluntarily stop selling dangerous, youth-attractive flavored malt beverages, also known as “alcopops.”
 
Supervisor Steve Kinsey co-authored the resolution, which acknowledges “the epidemic of underage drinking kills more youth than all other drugs combined.” The resolution supports the establishment of an Alcopop-Free Zone in Marin County and encourages all 217 active off-sale liquor license holders in the county “to voluntarily stop buying, stocking, selling and marketing alcopops.”
 
Supervisor Kinsey applauded the youth involved in the campaign, calling them “courageous for showing leadership in their own community for standing up and speaking out with their own friends…this board is being correct in its action but you are being courageous, we stand in solidarity with your efforts.”
 
“Underage drinking is a very serious and real problem that our County faces and alcopops packaging and marketing encourages underage drinking,” stated Supervisor Arnold. “The County’s resolution will help educate and bring light to the problem within our community. My hope is that it will encourage retailers to join voluntarily to help address underage drinking.”
 
Bill Daniels, owner of San Rafael’s United Market, became the county’s first responsible alcohol retailer to support the Alcopop-Free Zone Marin campaign, determined to put the health and safety of youth ahead of any alcopop sales.
 
Andy Bachich, owner of Andy’s Local Market and Andy’s Sun Valley Market in San Rafael, followed Daniels in “pledging my support for the coalition and recruiting other independent grocers to support as well.”
 
“I too want to lend my support as Director of Marin County Health and Human Services,” said Dr. Larry Meredith. “I applaud your consideration of this resolution, and your participation in making our community safer and healthier.  Markets that voluntarily agree to not sell alcopops reflect an ethically sound socially responsible approach that acknowledges community values and that the creation of a healthy community requires both community participation and commitment.  It is a priceless decision.”
 
Passage of the resolution closely follows actions over the past two weeks led by youth, adults, and community organizations from across Marin County who rallied in the Canal area of San Rafael to encourage the More for Less convenience store to voluntarily stop selling alcopops. Robert Frost, owner of the Sacramento-based chain, agreed to pull some brands like Four Loko, Tilt, and Sparks.
 
"It's been challenging to get More for Less to be more responsive to kids and the community,” said Joe Benjamin Feria Lopez, age 16, a Youth for Justice member. “We hope they will be encouraged by the Board of Supervisors action today and now take all these dangerous products off the shelf.”
 
Officer Jennifer Welch of the Novato Police Department helped outline the problem from the enforcement perspective, calling alcopops “very dangerous.”  She commended the board for their action, expressed hope that the program would spread to other communities, and pledged her department’s support.
 
“Kids are dying from alcopops in our community,” said Alcohol Justice board member and retired San Francisco Firefighter Captain John Hanley. “ The good news is that you are brave enough to tackle this on. The bad news is that no other board in the U.S. has yet to distinguish this as an important issue. Thank you for setting this important precedent ”
 
Current Alcopop-Free Zone Marin supporters include:
  • Alcohol Justice
  • Andy’s Local Market (Andy Bachich)
  • Being Adept
  • Families for Safer Schools
  • Marin County Advisory Board on Alcohol & Other Drug Problems
  • Marin County Dept. of Health & Human Services Prevention Hub
  • Marin County Pharmacists Association
  • Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for Youth
  • Novato Police Department
  • Pharmacist Planning Service, Inc.
  • Santa Margarita Neighborhood Association
  • San Rafael Community Coalition
  • Twin Cities Coalition for Healthy Youth
  • Marin County Youth Court
  • United Market (Bill Daniels)
  • Youth Leadership Institute
  • Youth for Justice
“We’ve been developing the Alcopop-Free Zone Marin campaign since last November because we recognize the serious problems associated with underage drinking and how it affects our friends and families,” said Diana Ruiz, a 15 year-old with Youth for Justice. “Getting alcopops out of stores is one big way to limit alcohol consumption by our peers."
 
The dangerous, youth-attractive alcopops, or flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are:
  • Pre-mixed, sweetened alcoholic drinks that taste like juice and soda
  • Packaged in brightly-colored cans, similar to energy drinks
  • Priced low enough to effectively target underage drinkers, especially young women
  • Shelved wherever beer is available – including convenience stores, gas stations, and mini-marts
  • Often supersized at up to 24 oz. single-serving containers with 12 percent alcohol – the equivalent of 4-5 beers which cannot be consumed responsibly by any age drinker
  • Encouraging underage consumption which leads to serious alcohol-related harm
“The entire Alcopop-Free Zone Marin collaboration, with the blessing of the Supervisors, will now move forward to ask every alcohol retailer in Marin to be responsible and put an end to alcopops in our community,” stated Jorge Castillo, Advocacy and Outreach Manager for Alcohol Justice.  “Hopefully, like-minded people around the country will follow this good example and organize to remove high-alcohol content, sweet alcopops from their communities as well.”
 
“Youth for Justice” is a Canal neighborhood group of middle and high school-aged youth leaders concerned with alcohol and other drug problems in their community.
 
The Alcopop-Free Zone Marin coalition announced it is open to any agency or group to join their efforts to remove alcopops from the county. Please visit www.AlcopopFreeZone.us or www.AlcoholJustice for more information.
 
“Any community, youth or parent group can organize to free their community of youth-attractive alcopops,” stated Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO of Alcohol Justice. “It can be done, anywhere in the country.”

 
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