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Nixing nips: Boston City Council taking up proposal to ban sales of small alcohol bottles

A discarded miniature bottle of Barcardi rum lies on the ground near Preble Street in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
A discarded miniature bottle of Barcardi rum lies on the ground near Preble Street in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

Gov. Maura Healey is back on our airwaves this morning. Tune in to Radio Boston at 11 a.m. to hear Tiziana Dearing’s live interview with Healey — and send us your questions for the governor through our text club. You can join up by texting BOSTON to 617-766-0382.

Now to the news:

The Boston City Council will take up a proposal today to nip several quality of life problems in the bud — by nixing nips. Councilor Ricardo Arroyo plans to formally present his proposal to ban the sale of small alcohol bottles up to 100 ml.

  • Why? Arroyo cites both environmental and public health reasons. Nip bottles are too small to be recycled and frequently become litter. In less than two months in 2021, residents picked up 10,000 (!) littered nip bottles in Hyde Park, where Arroyo lives.
  • The city of Chelsea also saw a massive drop in alcohol-related ambulance calls, as well as public drunkenness, after it passed a nip ban in 2018, according to CommonWealth Magazine (though it’s worth noting that the cause of those changes is disputed).
  • Arroyo told WBUR’s Amy Sokolow that Boston’s Licensing Board already makes agreements with individual liquor stores so they won’t sell nips. “This is sort of an issue that district councilors have dealt with on a piecemeal basis,” he said. “What I’m asking for is for us to make this retroactive and across the board.”
  • The path ahead: Arroyo’s proposal will get assigned to a committee today for a future public hearing and working sessions to iron out the details. But with budget season on the near-horizon, the timeline for a vote is unclear. Until then, many councilors aren’t staking out a position on the issue just yet.
  • But not all: Councilors Kendra Lara and Liz Breadon have come out in support of the ban. “These types of bans have proven to have a major impact on the health and well-being of residents in other cities,” Lara said in an email. (Similar bans already exist in Newton, Falmouth, Wareham and Mashpee.)
  • On the other hand: Councilor Erin Murphy, who chairs the body’s public health committee, questioned if Arroyo’s proposal would address the root causes of alcohol-related issues and expressed concerns about a ban’s impact on small, locally owned liquor stores. (The state’s package store association has fought against nip bans.) Murphy thinks “there are better ways” of addressing concerns — like working with liquor stores on awareness campaigns or putting out more trash barrels — rather than “another layer of government control.”

Fur-get about trying to sell fur products in Lexington. The town approved a new bylaw this week banning the sale of fur within its borders. While there currently aren’t any stores in Lexington dedicated to fur, the ban means the sale of other items that have fur (from clothing to home decor) will also be prohibited.

  • Not just coats: According to the MSPCA, many people may be wearing fur without knowing it. “Fur is prevalent in winter clothing—in the lining of coat hoods and as an accent on some wool hats,” said Kara Holmquist, the group’s advocacy director, adding that Lexington’s ban pushes stores to sell “cruelty-free alternatives that don’t rely on hurting animals.”
  • Lexington is the sixth Massachusetts community to pass a fur ban, joining Brookline, Cambridge, Plymouth, Wellesley and Weston. Once approved by Attorney General Andrea Campbell’s office, the bylaw wouldn’t take effect for at least six months.

National Grid customers can officially bank on a big drop in their electric bill later this spring. The Department of Public Utilities approved the company’s proposed rate reductions yesterday.

P.S.— The debut episode of Violation, our new podcast produced with The Marshall Project, is out today. The first episode of the seven-part series tells the story of a 1986 summer camp murder, in which 16-year-old Jacob Wideman fatally stabbed his roommate, Eric Kane. The crime devastated the two boys’ families — and was also a haunting echo from the Widemans’ family history. Listen to the series wherever you get your podcasts.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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