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GARDEN CITY, Utah (AP) -- A Utah liquor commissioner predicts flavored malt beverages soon will be shifted to state-run stores from grocery stores.
"This is not a moral decision. It's not a decision to protect youth," Bobbie Coray said.
"In Utah, the law is that if you have distilled spirits or wine, it must be sold in the liquor stores. What they have done with these alco-pops is taken the beer out and replaced it with distilled spirits," she said.
In September, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission told staff to prepare a regulation that allows only state liquor stores to stock the drinks. Coray predicts it will come up in November.
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has called for a crackdown, saying the drinks are being consumed by minors.
"I don't think it's going to keep young people from drinking it," said Coray, former head of the Cache Chamber of Commerce. "I don't think it has anything to do with morals. Now we're going to get bombarded by people who say we're taking their rights away."
The Flavored Malt Beverage Coalition has said restricting sales to state liquor stores won't solve the problem of underage drinking.
In an interview with The Herald Journal of Logan, Coray said the liquor commission is very political -- but "not Democrat and Republican political."
"There's a great divide in Utah between Mormons and people who are not Mormon," said Coray, who belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and prefers Perrier with a twist of lime.
"The commissioners are scared to death to say anything for fear they will be blasted," she said. "The staff is afraid of the commissioners because we're the only board that can fire and hire staff in the state."
Coray has called for a public hearing on state liquor laws. "I want to take away that fear. I want people to discuss that," she said.
Information from: The Herald Journal
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)