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Some Texas lawmakers want ready-to-drink cocktails to be sold at gas stations and grocery stores

New pieces of legislation have been introduced that would allow ready-to-drink cocktails to be sold at grocery and convenience stores in Texas.

HOUSTON — Want to be able to buy ready-to-drink cocktails at grocery stores and corner stores in Texas? New pieces of legislation were introduced that would make it happen.

Sen. Kelly Hancock, a Republican out of Fort Worth, introduced SB 1288, which he said will boost Texas businesses.

“As industries innovate and new products become staples in the marketplace, it only makes sense for us to take a look at ways government can reduce regulatory red tape," Hancock said. "I look forward to continuing to work on legislation that keeps free market principles at the core of Texas' economic success."

According to a release from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a recent survey showed that consumers support more access to the products -- 86% of them agree that they should be sold where beer and wine are available.

“It makes no sense that consumers can come into our stores and pick up malt-based seltzers but can’t do the same with their favorite spirits-based canned cocktails,” president/CEO of Texas Food & Fuel Association Paul Hardin said. “This is confusing to consumers and unnecessarily restricts our sales. Allowing these small businesses to sell spirits RTDs that have the same alcohol content as beer and wine products we already sell, will support the growth of tens of thousands of businesses across our state. It’s time to pass this commonsense measure in support of Texas consumers and local businesses.”

The House version of the bill was introduced earlier this month by Rep. Justin Holland.

“As spirits RTDs gain in popularity, states all across the U.S. are taking a look at beverage laws to ensure consumers of these products are being treated fairly, and Texas consumers should not get left behind,” president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Chris Swonger said. “These products are no different from the beer and wine RTDs already being sold in grocery and convenience stores. Legislative leaders in Texas should not be picking winners and losers in the marketplace. Texas consumers deserve better.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated that spirits were included in the bill, but they're not, so the story has been updated.

Driver in the industry

(Wording below is from the DISCUS news release)

The distilled spirits industry is a significant driver of economic activity in Texas, contributing to the vibrancy of the manufacturing, hospitality, tourism and agriculture industries. There are currently 92,000 jobs in the state depending on the spirits industry, generating more than $9.6 billion in state economic activity each year. Greater access to spirits RTDs will allow the industry to contribute even more.

Texas 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.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is the leading voice and advocate for distilled spirits in the U.S., advocating on legislative, regulatory and public affairs issues impacting the distilled spirits sector at the local, state, federal and international levels. DISCUS members are committed to responsibility and encourage adults who drink to do so in moderation.

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