Metro, Newton, Politics

City of Newton Issues Ban on Nips to Tackle Pollution

The Newton Licensing Commission banned liquor stores and other retail businesses from selling “nips,” alcoholic beverages less than or equal to 100 milliliters, after June 30, 2022, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced in her update on Nov. 18. 

With the ban, the City looks to eliminate environmental waste created by the miniature bottles, according to Emily Norton, a Ward 2 councilor who advocated for the ban.

“You can’t walk anywhere, really, without seeing, especially, nip bottles on the streets or in our parks or along the river,” Norton said.

Newton is not the first Massachusetts city to adopt the ban. Chelsea, Wareham, and Mashpee have already banned the sale of nips or have a ban taking effect in the near future, according to a post by Green Newton, a local sustainability group.

Norton said eliminating the bottles is an easy way to cut down on pollution in the city. There was no study measuring the environmental impact of a potential ban in the city prior to its passage, according to Norton.

“I’ve been working on … reducing plastic pollution in general as a counselor and [in] my day job … so I really wanted to address that and when I heard that Chelsea had banned nips I thought ‘Well, why wouldn’t we be able to do that?’” Norton said.

Green Newton praised the new ban.

We can look forward to fewer of these bottles littering our roadways and parks, and result in less plastic pollution in our environment … through the initiative of Councilors Alison Leary, Andrea Kelley, and Emily Norton,” read the post.

Norton said that one Newton business she spoke to, Marty’s Fine Wines, showed support for the ban. But not all local alcohol vendors were as enthusiastic about it.

Eric Gharzaryan, owner of Newton Warehouse Wine & Spirits on Centre Street, said nips help keep his store in business.

“We actually stay in business based on [the nips], wine, and others, but [the nips] make up 10 or 15 percent [of our sales],” he said. 

Gharzaryan said the ban presents both potential benefits and drawbacks. He said he is unsure if the ban really will benefit the environment.

“I truly believe … it’s the size [of the bottle] on the ground that is going to get bigger, rather than being a 50 [milliliter] it’s going to be 100 milliliter plus.”

Additionally, Gharzaryan said the ban could encourage customers to drink more.

“[The ban] has a bright and dark side,” Gharzaryan said. “By eliminating the 50 [milliliter], you’re forcing me to drink more, because the size is bigger.”

For Gharzaryan, the ban’s future effects on his business are uncertain, but he said his business would “rise again.”

“I’m not sure how [business] is going to be after [the ban],” Gharzaryan said. “Hopefully the larger bottles will cover the end of the business, but we’ll see what happens. … I don’t think we’re going to get destroyed, … but it’s definitely going to lead to a dent on our financial end.”

Looking to the future, Norton said that she hopes Newton serves as an example for other jurisdictions in Massachusetts. The city is the biggest in the state to approve such a ban, she said. 

“I am hoping that this will serve as an example to other communities [so] that they’ll want to [implement a nips ban],” Norton said.

Featured Graphic by Annie Corrigan / Heights Editor

December 5, 2021