It may have been the most important public hearing on alcopops to date, and yet two major producers of these dangerous products couldn’t be bothered to show up.
The New York Senate Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse held a public hearing on April 12 to discuss the need to restrict youth access to alcopops: sweet, fruit-flavored alcohol drinks, often with alcohol levels as high as 12%. Alcopops producers directly market them to underage drinkers, and cost hundreds of lives and billions of dollars of alcohol-related harm annually.
Setting an example for all states, New York State has conducted studies that revealed the startling availability of alcopops to teens. Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), chair of the Committee, recently introduced Senate Bill 4221 to address the problem by restricting the sale of flavored malt beverages to liquor stores. As part of the legislative process, the recent Committee hearing provided a forum for both for both opponents and proponents to make their case about alcopop availability on the record and before relevant lawmakers.
Despite issuing statements touting the safety of their products and complaining that the proposed legislation is “misguided,” two primary manufacturers of these products – Phusion Projects (Four Loko) and United Brands (Joose) – both failed to attend. Their absence was striking, given their confident appearances at previous hearings in multiple states regarding their products.
Perhaps they knew that their shoddy defenses couldn’t withstand a public conversation about the evidence against their products? In this case, their (lack of) action certainly speaks louder than their press releases.