Boston Suburb Fights Drunkenness by Requiring People to Buy Bigger Bottles of Booze

South Carolina used to mandate tiny bottles for the same reason.


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Thirteen years after South Carolina scrapped its longstanding requirement that bars and restaurants serve distilled spirits exclusively from tiny bottles, a Boston suburb has prohibited merchants from selling the 50-milliliter containers, a.k.a. nips. It says something about the elastic logic of meddling moralists that banning nips, like mandating them, is supposed to serve the cause of temperance.

The nip ban in Chelsea, Massachusetts, which local retailers recently challenged as an illegal modification of their licenses, is aimed at curtailing public drunkenness and littering. "Far too often we have made observations of individuals in an inebriated state in the area of Bellingham and Chelsea Square because of the overconsumption of these particular alcoholic beverages," Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes said after the city imposed the ban in May. "They have secreted the containers in their clothing only to be tossed in the street after their use. This local measure should go a long way towards reducing open-air intoxication in our vibrant downtown neighborhoods."

Robert Mellion, executive director of the Massachusetts Package Store Association, told The Boston Globe nips are "not even in the top five" of items found in litter, saying cigarette butts, food wrappers, and water and sports drink bottles are more common. "It's our opinion that Massachusetts has a litter problem, not necessarily a portion-control-sizing problem," he said. "It's a general litter problem in the state that has to be addressed."

As for public drunkenness, nip haters complain that the tiny bottles are inexpensive and easy to conceal. In addition to nixing nips, Chelsea imposed a "voluntary ban" on alcoholic beverages that cost less than $3. What the city views as a liability, of course, strikes most consumers as an advantage. "If you don't have enough money to get a full bottle or an expensive bottle," a local clothing store employee told the Globe, "a nip you drink in moderation. A nip helps you loosen up."

Moderation was the aim of the 1972 constitutional amendment that legalized the sale of distilled spirits by the drink in South Carolina but limited bottles to no more than two ounces. Until then people would bring their own liquor to bars and restaurants, which sold mixers and ice. The idea was that people would get less drunk if they had to buy single-serving mini-bottles. But things did not work out that way, because bartenders would pour all 1.7 ounces into drinks that otherwise might have had one, 1.25, or 1.5, and South Carolina became known for its potent cocktails. By the time the nip mandate was repealed in 2005, the opposition included South Carolina's Baptist Convention and Mothers Against Drunk Driving as well as the state's hospitality industry.

Now Chelsea, employing reverse logic, is anticipating that forcing local drunks to buy larger bottles of liquor will reduce "open-air intoxication." What could possibly go wrong?

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  1. Don’t be poor.

    1. That’s Rule #1 in the Land of the Free.

  2. This local measure should go a long way towards reducing open-air intoxication in our vibrant downtown neighborhoods.

    Isn’t that exactly what makes neighborhoods ‘vibrant’?

    1. Yes-see SF

      1. For progs-vibrant now means “safe”-where yoga pant wearing moms can push strollers by artsy shops that have dildo sculptures in their windows and get drunk at wine bars.

      2. I don’t think it’s the “progs” who are into prohibition. Sounds like the “law and order”, “clean up the streets” types trying to regulate against public drunks.

        1. >>>I don’t think it’s the “progs” who are into prohibition.

          full-bore tyranny.

  3. Brown paper bags, were looking at you next!

    1. With little eye holes cut into them?

      1. go Aints!

  4. Nudging the nip-takers to nip the nip problem in the bud.

  5. Idiocracy was prophetic as hell.

  6. A couple of comments on the Chief:
    If he can get drunk on 1 of these bottles, he is a real lightweight.
    If he thinks he has a vibrant downtown, he has had more than 1 of the bottles.

    1. A couple of comments on the Chief:

      Now we got a nice, quiet little beach community here, and I aim to keep it nice and quiet. So let me make something plain. I don’t like you sucking around, bothering our citizens, Lebowski. I don’t like your jerk-off name. I don’t like your jerk-off face. I don’t like your jerk-off behavior, and I don’t like you, jerk-off. Do I make myself clear?

      1. Chelsea, Mass. is definitely not a quiet little beach community. More like a post-industrial shithole the nearly burned to the ground in the early 1970s. In other words, its on the verge of hipsterdom.

      2. Look, let me explain something to you. I’m not Mr. Lebowski. You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me. That, or His Dudeness ? Duder ? or El Duderino, if, you know, you’re not into the whole brevity thing

    2. That was kindof my though as well, if you have enough of these nips to get visibly drunk you’d probably be better off buying a pint bottle anyway

  7. the opposition included South Carolina’s Baptist Convention

    Cuz everyone should be like us!
    You know why Baptists don’t have sex standing up?

    People will think they’re dancing.

    1. You know why Baptists don’t allow pre-marital sex?

      It can lead to dancing.

  8. Yes it may well be silly and dumb. But different entities doing completely different – and even contradictory – things is well exactly what Hayek was talking about in The Use of Knowledge in Society.

    The peculiar character of the problem of a rational economic order is determined precisely by the fact that the knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess.

    So what if government is also an example of where knowledge of circumstances and even values is contradictory? The fact that one person wants to buy bread at a particular price (values bread more) – while another wants to sell bread at that exact same price (values money more) – is the basis of a pricing system that utilizes that dispersed knowledge and the market system itself. We should WELCOME a situation where govts also operate under that – where one entity sees ‘small bottles worse than big’ and the other ‘big bottles worse than small’. It’s the opposite of the usual govt problem which is centralizing those decisions.

    1. Well, except for the problem that the decision is centralized. It is limited in area of effect but centralized and inescapable within the bounds of the central authority.
      The problem Hayek describes still applies.

      1. No it really isn’t. Look at who is challenging that Chelsea law? The MASSACHUSETTS Package Store Association. IOW – a private association wants to centralize that sort of law at the higher state level rather than the local level – and the law they seem to want is based on imposing the knowledge of ‘bottle size is always irrelevant’ over ‘big bottles better than small’. I have no idea who is right here and don’t have a dog in that fight either – but this sort of ‘jurisdiction shopping’ by private entities attempting to be more powerful than a local government in order to coerce their will on it has a very long history and is itself a very normal/predictable part of any economic order.

        The phenomenon is in fact a major cause of ‘centralized planning’ because the powerful producer/association always want to jurisdiction shop upwards not downwards. Because going upwards – they retain power over that higher level govt where the less-powerful only have power/interest locally.

        1. Why does area of effect matter?
          It’s okay if people in a 150 square mile area have a central plan imposed but not okay w hen it’s a whole state?

          1. Because to use this example — if the people of Chelsea actually do think bottle size is a legitimate rule about how the market itself functions, they can both implement – and repeal – and change/modify the rules far more easily if the area of effect is limited to them. The decisions that themselves aren’t pricing decisions are still accountable to circumstances that can change over place/time. Chelsea is irrelevant at the higher level so the decision at the higher level will be approved by others, imposed on them, and can’t be changed by them.

    2. Just don’t expect ANYONE to let you use a straw with those small bottles.

  9. Sully says to have ya’s a rippah and blow it up ya tool, stupid chah-da-heads!

  10. People get all hot and bothered about Trump, Obama, Hillary, whoever the POTUS may be, but I have been saying for a very long time that the most insidious Nazis are not in the White House or Congress, but in your local city hall. They are responsible for virtually all smoking, vaping, plastic straw, and now mini booze bottle bans. Not to mention harassing little kids over lemonade stand zoning violations. The wealthy progtards who vote them in agree with these laws too, because they are always targeted at the icky little people.

    1. People get hot and bothered about the federal government because it has the power to impose its will upon every single person in the country. Whereas City Hall’s will can be easily escaped by moving to a new town.

      1. Until the town they move to adopts a similar ban. I’ve noticed that its usually the wealthy prog towns that start with this nonsense, then it spreads like a cancer to the less affluent ones, and eventually the entire state.

        1. I live in such a town now. It sucks. The town I moved from was so small they had no police force. And really low property taxes. No police force meant no town ordinances, because the troopers and sheriffs they pay to answer emergency calls will only enforce state law. It was kinda cool. Way out in the middle of nowhere though. Isolated. Trade offs I guess.

    2. Who know who else insidious is in city hall?

    3. Oh yes yes yes! I understand the subsidiarist point people try to make, but they sometimes get so carried away and start to romanticize (or at least under-hate) the local folks. And they still have control over most of the policy that affects us. People talk about Congresscritters and the like, but I do have to say the people who have not made it that far, it’s not as though it’s because they’re not big enough pieces of shit to have excelled in the piece-of-shit pageant. These are some of the most stupid, ignorant, lazy, and corrupt people you will ever see. They are worse than ordinary people in every way conceivable; you must see it to believe it. And no, I’m not just talking New York here; I’ve lived elsewhere.

  11. I see people buy those things by the handful. I personally don’t get it. Maybe it’s denial? They don’t think they are drinking as much if they only drink a nip at a time? Maybe they drink them while driving and want to avoid having an open container charge if they get pulled over? I dunno.

  12. OT; Big win out of the ninth circuit:

    1. That’s a wicked pissa ruling! Sorry, no more Boston vernacular.

      But that’s a fucking awesome ruling. Crush that proggy bullshit!

      Now, hopefully this will be a shot across the bow of the USS Commie Jesuit as per the chicken shit move Gonzaga made with regards to refusing an audience for Shapiro.

  13. Give it a few years and the problem will solve itself – the only affordable drink left will be PBR’s because that’s what the hipsters who are invading Chelsea like.

    1. But PBR is going out of business, unless they can force MillerCoors to keep making PBR for them……..he-way-out

  14. “They have secreted the containers in their clothing only to be tossed in the street after their use.”

    But enough about cigarette smokers.

    1. Tiny glass bottles? Pshaww. No proper gentleman goes out and about in the town of Boston without his own monogrammed flask.

  15. The people of Chelsea should get Janet Jackson to guest a rally protesting the nip ban. I am sure it would be history if they managed this.

  16. One aspect of the S. Carolina law was that you were not going to get short-poured–you always got your money’s worth.

  17. Well it IS Boston. They have to try something.

  18. Liberals don’t care what you do, so long as it’s mandatory.

  19. “If you don’t have enough money to get a full bottle or an expensive bottle”

    Keeping the poor from booze.

    Progressivism in action.

  20. Of course the socialist state of Mass always knows whats best for its subjects.

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