CHELSEA – After banning the miniature bottles of alcohol known as “nips” from their community a year ago, Chelsea officials are reporting that the decision was a huge benefit to the city.
Not only has the city seen a decline in litter from tiny bottles strewn about the streets and parks, but public intoxication and alcohol-related ambulance responses have also decreased.
According to Cataldo Ambulance Service, who holds a contract with the city, alcohol-related emergency calls are down from 556 in 2018 to just 127 calls as of mid-August, according to CommonWealth Magazine.
Chelsea police have also reported a decline in alcohol-related arrests, with only 86 individuals brought into protective custody for alcohol consumption as opposed to last year’s total of 222 cases.
Chelsea’s decision and the reported positive results from the ban have inspired other Massachusetts communities to look into placing a nip ban in their own communities.
“It’s been over a year since that ban was put in place and the results are in – the impact of the ban is overwhelmingly positive,” said Chelsea City Councilor Roy Avellaneda, who spearheaded the effort last year. “Just look at the numbers.”
Meanwhile, liquor store owners don’t share the same thoughts on the ban. While their main concern seems to be loss of revenue, some also believe that the results reported by the city aren’t entirely positive, as they say the ban is causing other problems.
Robert Mellion, executive director and general counsel for the state’s Package Store Association, believes that the roughly 10% of lost revenue isn’t the only issue at play.
“If the argument put forward is that the sale of 50- or 100-milliliter bottles is directly connected with alcohol addiction – if that’s true, all you’re doing is driving an individual to purchase a 200-milliliter item,” Mellion said.
“It’s a false narrative. If the goal is to end public drinking, the real way is to convince people not to drink, not remove a specific bottle size.”
Nine Chelsea liquor store owners have since filed an appeal against a ban of 100-milliliter containers. City officials argue that the state commission does not have jurisdiction to appeal the ban, but liquor store owners do not see it that way.
A similar debate could be in store for the city of Worcester, as officials are currently weighing the possibility of banning nips.
Worcester District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera’s request to ban the tiny bottles in January is still under review. Since then, Rivera has announced that she may amend her request with a new one, a redemption deposit on nips.
“Honestly, I’m just sick and tired of the litter of the nip bottles,” Ms. Rivera shared with the Worcester Telegram. “Part of the reason we don’t see beer cans everywhere is because they have a deposit.”
A decision has yet to be reached.