Can Nips Be Banned? Litter and Public Drinking Cited as Reasons

Nips Galore: Little liquor bottles dot the landscape in Thompson Square and other areas of Charlestown like flowers in a garden. More than 25 were counted in a two-block walk from Rutherford to Thompson Square last Friday.

Like flowers and Christmas lights, liquor nip bottles have become part of the landscape in Charlestown and other neighborhoods of the City.

They are strewn about the sidewalks from Thompson Square to Hayes Square to The Neck. Last Friday morning, walking from Rutherford Avenue to Thompson Square, one nip bottle was observed.

Followed by another and another.

By the end of the two-block walk from the stoplight to Thompson Square, there had been 29 nip bottles counted strewn about the sidewalk and grassy areas abutting the street.

Along with that, public drinking in the Square has picked up somewhat, with the worst results playing out at the businesses like 7-Eleven where customers and employees often bear the abuse of those who have had one too many nips.

In some areas, nips – which are 50 mL servings of liquor sold in many varieties – have been banned, and the first such ban started on the other side of the Bridge in Chelsea.

That ban was put in place last summer, and City leaders and Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes said they have found a noticeable change in public drunkenness and litter caused by nip bottles.

“I do notice a little difference,” said Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “I think it’s been fairly effective.”

That ban, however, is being challenged in court by several Chelsea liquor stores and the state Package Store Association. Retailers there went along with a ban on the nip bottles, but pushed back when Chelsea tried to ban other small liquor bottles. That was mostly because they reported their businesses were suffering from not being able to sell those products.

It’s estimated by some that close to 70,000 nips are sold every day statewide.

The Chelsea case is being tested in court right now, with both sides filing briefs detailing their positions, and the rest of the area – including Boston – watching for the outcome.

The City Licensing Board would be responsible for any such ban in Boston and Charlestown, but as of now that is something they aren’t considering.

To date, the Board has not considered an outright ban, a spokesman for the Mayor’s Office said.

The Board does focus in on individual licensees, and if there is a particular business causing problems, they can institute a provision to curtail sales of nips.

In determining whether or not a no nips/no singles provision would be in the interest of public health and safety, right now the Board weighs input from the surrounding neighborhood, as well as local police, as part of our community process.

CNC Community Corner

The Charlestown Neighborhood Council wishes to invite interested residents to submit nomination papers for the one remaining “at-large” seat on the Charlestown Neighborhood Council. Candidates will need to collect signatures from 25 Charlestown residents who are 18 years of age or older and mail the completed list to the Charlestown Neighborhood Council, PO Box 397, Charlestown, MA 02129 by Feb. 1, 2019. Candidates are expected to present themselves for consideration to the CNC at the monthly meeting on Feb. 5, 2019, Knights of Columbus Hall, Medford St., at 7 p.m. The Charlestown Neighborhood Council will seat the successful candidate at that meeting. 

Nomination papers and instructions are available on the CNC website, at the Charlestown Library or from any current member of the CNC. 

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