How Effective Are Nip Bottle Bans?
If you ask any anti-litter coalition that has collected plenty of nip bottles, I'm sure they'll tell you that communities that ban the sale of nip bottles report finding fewer nip bottles discarded around.
Litter cleanup drives are traditional rites of spring. In Falmouth, where residents banned the sale of nip bottles, the town was having a problem with scattered nip bottle litter.
I know a few of the reasons why people are still littering, and the answers come down to selfishness and are self-serving. I never thought that laws could translate into changing people's habits. The problem of littering is a behavioral problem, because some folk never grow up.
I would have thought that if consumers don't find nips on the shelf, they'd buy the next size up, and that means they'd be drinking more liquor – but apparently I'm wrong, because the City of Chelsea claims that because of the ban on nip bottles of liquor, that municipality saw a large decrease in alcohol-related incidents since banning nips in 2019.
I do know that a ban of this kind will hurt small businesses, because sales like these usually make up 20 to 25 percent of their sales that are based on a very slim margin of about two or three percent. A cut like a ban could force some to close shop.
The other ugly truth of bans is consumers will go to the nearest location that does sell nips. Unless there's a statewide ban, the litter problem will continue. Plus, the illegal underground market flourishes during bans.
I'm usually not a big fan of bans, but I understand why frustrated residents pass them, because they have no other alternative. So much for "Give a Hoot! Don't pollute," – and that goes for uncovered pickup trucks that carry small construction debris.
I've seen nips, pieces of plastic, wrappings, shingles, paint cans and five-gallon plastic pails go airborne because the load wasn't properly covered. That's a problem that needs addressing, too.