“Substance misuse, including alcohol misuse, continues to be one of the major public health and safety challenges facing us as a state,” Hassan said. “Moreover, statistics suggest that New Hampshire has among the highest rates of underage drinking in the country. In changing the way that we regulate, and in some cases loosening restrictions on referring to minors in the advertisement and sale of alcoholic beverages, House Bill 122 could undermine our efforts to prevent underage drinking.”
The bill was sponsored by New Hampshire State Rep. Keith Murphy, a tavern owner who wanted to be able to enjoy Breakfast Stout produced by Michigan’s Founders Brewing Co. Bottles of the beer are currently unavailable for sale in the state because the beer’s label features a chubby-cheeked baby scooping oatmeal into his mouth.
As it is currently depicted, the label is a violation of New Hampshire liquor code that states advertising cannot contain “any reference to minors, pictorial or otherwise.” The bill would have granted the state authority to approve or deny labels at its discretion.
Murphy called the veto an overreach in a statement to the Associated Press arguing he sees the logic in prohibiting sale of a beer that features college students partying, but not the Founder’s label, which he says is clearly not targeting minors.
Hassan said she will continue to support of the craft beer industry, but any change to the way alcohol could be advertised must be approached with caution. In this case, Hassan said the bill did not meet that standard and could lead to inconsistencies in how regulations are applied.