San Rafael, CA Mayor Calls for Reduced Access to Cheap Alcohol

October 7, 2014
San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips recently asked local liquor stores in this California town to stop selling cheap vodka and malt liquor, in response to complaints of intoxicated homeless persons.

Mayor Phillips has the right idea: reducing availability and access to cheap alcohol helps decrease community alcohol problems. However, he should expand his request to include alcopops: bubbly, sweet, and often high-alcohol drinks that are attractive to youth and frequently sold in single-serve, 23.5 oz cans. Popular alcopops include Four Loko, at 12.5% ABV, which is often called "binge-in-a-can" because the alcohol content in one 23.5-oz can is equivalent to almost 5 standard beers. While intoxicated homeless people may be a more visible problem than underage drinkers, Mayor Phillips admits that malt beverages are also targeted at youth. According to the California Healthy Kids Survey, 15% to 33% of Marin high schoolers report having engaged in binge drinking in the past month.

Alcohol Justice has long called for alcohol retailers to implement city- and countywide Alcopop-Free Zones. The San Rafael City Council and Marin County Board of Supervisors have both passed resolutions in support, and Colonial Liquors was one of the first retailers to voluntarily remove alcopops from its shelves. Alcohol Justice encourages Mayor Phillips to protect youth by supporting the San Rafael Alcopop-Free Zone.