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Thursday, December 14, 2006

California to Target Alcopops

Alcopops. Malternatives. Coolers. Whatever you call them, they are likely to get more expensive and be harder to find in California during 2007.

The California Board of Equalization, acting on a petition submitted by a group called California Friday Night Live (CFNL) that is said to be made up of teenage members, will look at plans to tax products like Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Silver as liquor and have them removed from grocery and convenience store shelves.

The result would be that malternatives would increase in price by $2 a six pack and only be available in liquor stores. Right now about 24,000 stores with beer and wine sales licenses can legally sell malternatives. CFNL says this move would help cut teen drinking because the sweet-tasting products are favorites among female underage drinkers.

The California Board of Equalization estimates that by reclassifying malternatives from beer to distilled spirits state tax collections will swell by $40 million a year. California would join Maine as the only other state that treats these products as distilled spirits.

Malternatives use a malt beverage based brewed as a clear, primarily flavorless beer. Many of the products use the names of famous spirits brands and are either flavored like classic cocktails or lemonade, tea or fruit-based drinks. The move to reclassify the products would require public hearings and likely legislation.

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