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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff doesn't want to see sweet, malt beverages that are popular with underage drinkers on supermarket shelves.
Shurtleff and Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe have sent letters to other attorneys general advocating stricter controls over malt beverages like alcoholic colas, lemonade and fruit-flavored drinks.
Shurtleff and Rowe are co-chairmen of the National Association of Attorneys General's Youth Access to Alcohol Task Force. Shurtleff plans to ask the Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission this week to support legislation requiring that malt drinks be sold only in state liquor outlets.
The malt beverages contain less alcohol than beer, which can legally be sold in grocery stores if the alcohol content is 3.2 percent or less. But Shurtleff said the so-called "alcopops" are popular with teens, especially girls and plans to present American Medical Association polls to the state alcohol commission Thursday.
"We are delighted the attorneys general are taking some action on a serious problem," said Donald Zeigler, deputy director of the AMA's Office of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse. "We are concerned about the drinking level of young women, particularly those in colleges, and of young, underage girls."
Jim Olsen, president of the Utah Food Industry Association, said his group opposes singling out malt beverages and allowing only state liquor outlets to sell them.
"Many of our consumers -- including women -- prefer flavored malt beverages," Olsen said. "Adults, age 21 and older, should be allowed to buy these drinks without having the hassle of going to a state liquor store."
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)