(The city of Novato released the following after the Novato City Countil meeting of Nov. 13)
In a move to reduce underage drinking and youth access to alcohol, the Novato City Council adopted a resolution supporting an Alcopop-Free Zone in Novato and encouraging retailers to restrict sales and marketing of these alcoholic beverages to the city’s youth.
The city follows the County of Marin and San Rafael, the first county and city to approve such resolutions, in supporting and publicly recognizing the need to educate the community on the risks and allure of these products on minors.
“As a member of the Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition, the city is committed to positively impacting the well-being of our youth through community action, proactive policies, and education,” said Pam Shinault, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department. “By raising awareness among Novato parents, children, teachers and businesses of the inherent risks associated with these products, we reinforce the values of a healthy, safer community to our children.”
Alcopops are flavored malt beverages that are packaged and marketed as single-serving and ready-to-drink, often in 24-ounce serving sizes that can contain up to 12 percent alcohol — equivalent to up to five servings of alcohol. These products, which are presently legal, can be found in grocery and convenient stores, and gas stations, and although representing a minor percentage of retail alcohol sales, the product represents a disproportionately-large percentage of underage consumption.
Marin County has higher rates than state and national averages for youth alcohol consumption and binge drinking, and the rates in Novato mirror those of the County. According to a 2011 California Healthy Kids Survey, sponsored by the California Department of Education, 42 percent of Novato 11th grade students used alcohol in the past month. Other surveys indicate that nearly a third of Novato high school students use alcohol regularly and nearly 30 percent of Novato fifth-graders report having used alcohol.
The Retail Access to Alcohol Committee of the NBRCY continues to outreach to Novato’s 32 off-sale liquor establishments. One grocer, Paradise Market, has pledged its support of this resolution and removed the products from its shelves at its Pacheco Plaza store.
The city has recognized the issue of underage drinking and has committed, through its participation on the NBRCY, to “reduce youth access to alcohol, binge drinking, marijuana, and bullying.”
Source: Peggy Flynn, city of Novato public communications coordinator