Pappas: Don’t take away my alcopops

By By Nicholas Pappas

By Nicholas Pappas

I am writing this while drinking a glass of Shiraz. It always adds that extra oomph when I sit down at my Desert Industries desk and pull the cork out with my teeth.

I will not be driving any time soon. I will not be dumping the bottle of Shiraz into a bong and going from zero to drunken stupor in 3.2 seconds. I am simply having a healthy glass of wine. Does that make me a criminal?

If you asked Sen. Bramble or Sen. Buttars, it does. Bramble, R-Provo (go figure), is drafting a bill to restrict sales of flavored malt beverages, known as “alcopops,” in local supermarkets and hide them in state liquor stores alongside wine and other sins. Buttars, R-West Jordan, riled up on fruit punch and funeral potatoes, declared on “The Senate Site” that “selling or promoting alcopops in retail stores represents nothing less than an insidious ploy to introduce our kids into the liquor industry and their products.”

They’re right. It’s for the greater good. Restricting sale of Boone’s Farm and various flavored drinks from supermarkets will only cut down on social consequence. I’m reminded of the following scene:

Drunken Teen: Is there a problem, officer?

Officer: You were weaving back there, son. Have you been drinking tonight?

Drunken Teen: Why no, officer. Why would you think that?

Officer: Step out of the car. I smell passion fruit on your breath.

Sound absurd? It is. A drunken driver is not the kind of person who drinks alcopops or wine. He or she is a beer drinker, or most likely had too many Long Island Iced Teas or shots of the hard stuff.

Our elected officials have already made sure hard liquor is only found in state liquor stores. By adding flavored beverages to the menu, they will effectively increase the price by 85 percent. (Pabst, thankfully, can still be found at your local grocery store. Have you heard it won the blue ribbon?)

Mark Tuttle, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has stated the church is for the ban. In a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune, he said, “The resulting lower social costs from alcohol abuse are a benefit to all Utahns.”

No one can disagree with the logic. Obviously, if alcohol never existed in the first place, there wouldn’t be drunken drivers, embarrassing text messages or trips to Beto’s. But alcohol does exist. Moving the locale doesn’t change anything. If underage drinkers want a drink, they will get it. Period.

What it does is build up the mystique that Utah society has toward alcohol. Teenagers, rebellious by nature, will only want to drink the forbidden hard apple cider more. In Europe, children grow up seeing their parents drink alcohol. It is easy and accessible. Yet, they do not have the same social drinking problems we do.

Any parent will tell you the surest way to arouse children’s interest is hiding something from them. As a result, those same children will drink purely for independence, as a sign of freedom from the oppression with which they grew up.

So, ban alcopops. I don’t care. It won’t make a difference. Teenagers will simply find new ways to get around the system. I would gladly give up easy access to Mike’s Hard Lemonade for a glass of Shiraz without the 85 percent markup.

Support your local artists, writers, hipsters and cooks. Let’s start a petition to put wine back in stores. It will promote better food, more book clubs and, let’s be honest, better articles.

I’m probably dreaming, but the idea is intoxicating.

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