ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) ─ The mayor of Attleboro is considering banning small, plastic bottles of alcohol ─ commonly referred to as “nips” ─ from being sold at liquor stores in the city.
Mayor Paul Heroux said the idea behind the ban is to reduce pollution in the city. It would prohibit liquor stores from selling the 50 ml (1.7 ounce) plastic bottles, which typically sell for $1.
“I am seeking to make Attleboro a cleaner, greener community for today, tomorrow and generations to come,” Heroux said. “These bottles are one of the most common forms of litter we see in the city.”
Heroux said not only are the bottles harmful to the environment, their convenient packaging also enables drinking and driving.
“We find nips all over the city streets because people who litter them are drinking as they are driving,” Heroux said. “It’s clear that these small bottles are the choice because they help evade detection while drinking and driving as the evidence is quickly tossed out the window.”
But liquor store owners have been vocal with their concerns on the ban, testifying virtually in front of the Attleboro City Council Tuesday night that nips generate thousands of dollars for them each year.
“Banning has never solved anything,” Twin Liquors owner Jack Patel said. “I don’t know whether it’s an ego issue, but when you tell those adults that you can’t do this, they all tell us, ‘OK, I’ll go down the street.'”
President and CEO of the United States Regional Chamber of Commerce Jack Lank believes the city won’t be able to easily enforce the ban, especially while liquor stores in surrounding communities are still selling them.
“Ultimately, the proposed ban would not achieve its intended goals, and it would put many local businesses out of business,” Lank said. “Consumers will shift their purchases to stores in neighboring towns and will still bring it back here to Attleboro.”
Heroux said similar bans in both Chelsea and Falmouth have already been successfully implemented and have not had any detrimental effects on the liquor stores in either community.
“Attleboro will be a cleaner and safer place without these bottles being sold within our city limits,” he said.
Joshua DeFronzo, a manger at City Spirits II, said what’s most concerning to him is that there is no alternative packaging for nips that is environmentally friendly.
“There is no substitute,” DeFronzo said. “There is not going to be a more environmentally-friendly package at the same margin where we can make the same sales.”
The majority of people who testified agreed that it would be beneficial to make Attleboro a cleaner city, but they don’t believe banning nips is the answer.
“We should focus our efforts on the root of our cause for concern and reinforce the anti-litter mentality amongst residents of all ages,” beverage distributor Amber Dutra Rylee said.
Heroux is also looking to ban both Styrofoam and plastic food containers and cups, single-use plastic water bottles and single-use plastic straws, among other items deemed harmful for the environment.