Today, Senate Bill 688, sponsored by Senator Mike Regan, which would allow low-alcohol-by-volume spirits ready-to-drink cocktails (RTDs) to be sold from state stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, and local restaurants and taverns alongside their beer- and wine-based counterparts, passed out of the Senate Law & Justice Committee.

“It’s well past time we create a more level playing field for spirits-based ready-to-drink cocktails in Pennsylvania, and that’s exactly what this bill does,” said Senator Mike Regan. “Despite having the exact same alcohol content as beer- and wine-based canned cocktails, spirits RTDs are at a more than 10,000 store disadvantage. That hurts businesses and limits consumer choice and convenience. I urge my colleagues to vote yes on SB 688.”

A recent survey showed consumers support greater access to these products, including in grocery and convenience stores, with 86 percent agreeing that spirits RTDs should be sold where beer and wine are available for purchase.

“We are happy to see this bill move through committee and are hopeful the Senate will see the great value it provides for local businesses and consumers,” said Andy Deloney, senior vice president of state government relations at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. “Spirits RTDs contain the same amount of alcohol as the beer and wine products already being sold in these stores. There is no reason to treat these similar products differently.”

There are currently 45,900 jobs in Pennsylvania depending on the spirits industry, generating more than $4.29 billion in state economic activity each year. By applying the 18% liquor tax to RTDs containing up to 12.5% alcohol and expanding access to these products, the state could gain between $153.3 and $184.5 million in new revenue over the course of three years.

Pennsylvania is one of many states taking a closer look at this issue to ensure that producers of spirits-based RTDs are being treated fairly, recognizing that treating beverages differently based on the myth that some alcohol is “softer” than others sends a dangerous message to consumers.