ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Some Maryland lawmakers think a smart way to cut back on underage drinking -- and ultimately teen sex and drunken driving -- is to restrict sales of "alcopops," soft drink-like alcoholic beverages that appeal to young drinkers.
Maryland's House of Delegates held a hearing Monday on restricting the sale of such beverages to retailers with licenses to sell beer, wine and liquor.
Last year, the legislature categorized the higher-alcohol content drinks into the same standard as beer, allowing them to be sold at any establishment with a license to sell beer. Such establishments -- like convenience stores and package stores -- are located in densely populated neighborhoods where teens have easy access, according to Delegate Bill Bronrott.
A Marin Institute study found that 47 percent of alcopops consumed in California are consumed by underage drinkers. One in six girls who tried alcopops had been sexually active after drinking and one in four drove or rode in a car driven by someone who'd been drinking, according to a 2004 American Medical Association poll.
House Bill 1180 aims to reduce such behavior by making alcopops harder for teens to come by.