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No more nips? Boston city councilor wants to ban sale of tiny bottles of alcohol

BOSTON — Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo has proposed a ban on the sale of miniature bottles of alcohol, commonly referred to as nips.

Arroyo filed a hearing order on Monday for the City Council to consider banning the bottles of alcohol that are 100 millimeters or less. He also wants fellow councilors to consider the benefits that the ban would have on public health across the city.

He said that a nip ban in Chelsea led to both cleaner streets and less calls for alcohol-related problems. Arroyo also pointed to a 2021 effort by Hyde Park residents to rid their streets of the 100-ml bottles. In just two months, they collected 10,000 of the things, which he said cannot be recycled due to their size.

“They are so small that they can break the machines. You can’t actually redeem them,” Arroyo told Boston 25 Morning News. “There’s no machine that actually exists to recycle them.”

Other cities and towns across Massachusetts including Chelsea, Newton, Falmouth, Wareham, and Mashpee have banned the sale of nips locally and have seen a positive health impact because of it, Arroyo said.

“They’re dangerous. You think you are good with one or two but that is not always true,” a South Boston woman said.  But some people say these tiny bottles of booze go from the store shelves to the street curbs. “And they are cheap so if you don’t have 20 bucks to buy a fifth or a quart you can get. It’s not a good idea in my opinion,” a man said.

Some local liquor store owners, like the family that owns Al’s in South Boston, point out some people prefer to buy smaller portions of alcohol so they can control their intake. The owners say people traveling or visiting also tend buy them.

Outside Massachusetts, Arroyo also noted bans in Albuquerque, Chicago, and Maine have been successful in reducing public intoxication and alcohol-related ambulance responses.

“I think it’s very clear that when you ban these nips, you take care of a significant problem,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo’s hearing order could bring officials from the Boston Public Health Commission and the Licensing Board before the City Council on Wednesday to discuss a possible ban. In Boston, new liquor permits can have a contingency put on them like not being allowed to sell nips.  Some businesses do have that condition on their license already.

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