The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports on how Washington state officials are frustrated by the fact that, despite efforts to ban the beverages favored by the brown bag and park bench set, poor people still find ways to knock a few back:
In late 2006, the state prohibited grocery and convenience stores from selling certain alcoholic beverages in most of central Seattle and the University District, including all or portions of downtown, Belltown, lower Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, the Central Area, the International District and Sodo. The city had requested the move, an expansion of an “alcohol impact area” ban that had previously only applied to Pioneer Square.
The restricted booze is mostly relatively low-cost, highly fortified beer and wine that officials think is favored by the people who are chronically drunk on city streets and sidewalks.
These days, though, alcohol distributors are skirting the ban by selling the same products under different labels, Scales said. For now, the state Liquor Control Board should add additional products to the prohibition, he said. The long-term solution requires the ban be driven by a formula based on alcohol content, not brand names, some city officials say…
“There are thousands and thousands of beer and wine products out there, and to use a formula base, that’s a very broad brush that could impact thousands of products,” [Liquor Board chairwoman Lorraine] Lee said. “There’s no one formula that’s going to capture exactly what the (chronic public inebriates) are drinking.”
This isn’t the first time that Seattle has lamented that drinkers find substitutes when access to their first options is restricted. And as Radley Balko has noted, there’s an undeniable tinge of classism to this kind of legislation.