Comments Needed To Improve Alcopops Regulation!
On March 24, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB; formerly the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) issued proposed regulations to change the classification and labeling rules governing alternative malt beverages, a.k.a. alcopops. You have until October 21 to submit written comments about the proposed regulations.
What is at Stake:
Alcopops, also known as flavored malt beverages or malternatives, gained popularity in the past few years as an accessible, sweet-tasting alcoholic drink heavily favored by underage drinkers. Many of these products have liquor brand names and actually contain alcohol derived from spirits, rather than malt-beverage sources. Despite their alcohol content, they have been treated much like malt beverages, distributed through the same channels, and taxed at the beer rate. In addition, despite their obvious promotion of liquor brands, they’re advertised on network television, as if they were beer, making a mockery of network policies against hard-liquor advertising. Classifying the products as distilled spirits would reduce the number of outlets in which the products are sold, increase the taxes on the products to the liquor rate, and perhaps discourage the networks from accepting advertising for them. It might also help dispel some of the consumer confusion that has developed surrounding the identity of the products.
CSPI urges groups and individuals to weigh in on this important matter by sending feedback on the proposed regulations to the TTB no later than October 21, 2003. Include your name, mailing address, a legible signature if you are mailing or faxing your letter, and your e-mail address if you are submitting your comments via e-mail. All comments should reference "TTB Notice No. 4." Read on for talking points. Please send a copy of your comments to CSPI for our records: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are four simple ways to submit your opinion:
What the Regulation Proposes:
The TTB proposes two major changes to its current rules regarding flavored malt beverages.
1. In order to be classified, taxed, and regulated as a malt beverage like beer, alcoholic beverages must contain less than one-half of one percent (0.5%) of alcohol content by volume from added distilled spirits and flavorings. In other words, all but 0.5% of the alcohol content by volume of a malt beverage must come from the brewing process, and not be derived by the distilling of spirits.
CSPI strongly supports this proposed standard as appropriate and necessary.
2. TTB also proposes changes in the labeling and advertising rules for "alcopop" malt beverages that derive more than 0.5% of alcohol by volume from non-brewed sources. The TTB would mandate that alcohol content be listed on the brand label and would limit the use of many (but not all) misleading labeling terms. For example, an alcopop could have a brand name that was the same as the original liquor brand name (e.g., Smirnoff Ice), but could not include spirit type or cocktail terms (e.g., rum, whisky, margarita) in the name or anywhere on the label.
CSPI supports changes that minimize consumer deception, but strongly urges TTB to require that all "alcopops" and beers (whatever the source of their alcohol) be required to label alcohol content. We also urge TTB to require other labeling (calories, serving size, ingredients) that will provide consumers with information about what they're drinking.
It's important that your comments include your position on the regulation, why you think the regulations are sound, and the reasons for your concern about alcopops and underage drinking. Here are some talking points to get you started.
For facts to support your comments, see our alcopops fact sheet: www.cspinet.org/booze/FactSheets/030716AlcopopFS.pdf
For a copy of CSPI's written comments on this regulation: www.cspinet.org/booze/CSPI_MalternativesRule_Comment_FINAL.pdf
For the proposed regulation in its entirety: www.ttb.gov/notices/ttbnotice_no10.pdf
For CSPI's survey data on consumer perceptions of alcopops: www.cspinet.org/booze/alcopops.htm
Please contact Amy Gotwals, Manager of Grassroots Advocacy, for further information and guidance: email@example.com or 202-332-9110, ext. 348.
For more information, please send us an email.
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Alcohol Policies Project
1220 L St. NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-332-9110 * Fax: 202-265-4954 * Web: www.cspinet.org/booze