Miniature alcohol bottles are also known as “nips” Litter gardens, parks, and playgrounds prompted the Witch City’s proposal of a litter ban.


We’re exploring how America defines itself one place at a time. Halloween Salem, Massachusetts, has become synonymous with the city’s identity, which draws huge crowds. in There is a lot litter.

List of public nuisances in Salem, Mass., in High-quality Halloween The season is long, and strange: rowdy crowds threaten gravestones dating back to the 17th century. Unlicensed fortune-tellers. Parking spaces at Gallows hill or the Museum of Torture are contested.

Some city leaders, and those who have been suffering for so long, took action against a new scourge in October. in Salem — the diminutive bottles of alcohol informally known as “nips.”

The 50-milliliter single-serving bottles, despite their appearance of innocence, have been put to the test. in Massachusetts in In recent years, they have been stacked, drained, and discarded. in Garden, parks and playgrounds. Weary of the crunchy plastic carpet underfoot — and wary of their appeal to teens and closet drinkers — a growing roster of cities and towns is moving to ban nips altogether.

Salem and most other towns have the same goal: to reduce litter. But the campaigns cannot help but carry a whiff of the region’s Puritanical origins. Some Salem residents said banning nips seems extreme, almost like a throwback to the intolerant era that spawned the city’s most shameful history.

Residents acknowledge that litter is an issue, especially in the city. in In October, nearly one million Halloween celebrants visit the city — many of them dressed in pointed hats and spider web leggings — for the 40-year-old “Haunted Happenings” festival. Salem residents have been avoiding Salem since mid-September because of the month-long festival, which includes twilight tours, haunted bar crawls, and witch trials reenactments.

Some locals have said that in this chaotic environment, a ban of nips would seem like a drop. in The bucket

“The problem is, people are just going to buy a bigger bottle,” Brian Carter, a resident of Salem for thirty years who stopped his evening walk to observe a couple erect a 12-foot skeleton in front of a house at Derby Street.

Because nips can be easily concealed, though, they pose an invisible threat to bartenders and bar owners who bear legal responsibility for patrons’ alcohol intake, said Diane Wolf, a longtime Salem bar owner who backs the proposed ban.

“We find them in the trash in the bathrooms,” She claimed that she had evidence of some customers secretly supplementing the amount they pay. “official” alcohol intake. “Sometimes we’re like, ‘How did that person go from zero to 60 in a minute?”

Ms. Wolf — wearing a black T-shirt with the slogan “Salem Is Not A Theme Park” — said she was no teetotaler, and sometimes stuffs stockings with nips at Christmas. But she was taken aback recently by an online ad for a hair scrunchie with a secret zip pocket touted as the perfect place to stash a nip.

Ty Hapworth, a city councilor who lives near the Salem Witch Museum and plucks empty nip bottles from his garden almost daily, said he expected liquor store owners to fight the ban.

Deep Patel, a manager at Loring Liquors, near Salem State University, said he will be among them.

“It would definitely hurt us,” he said, thumping his chest with his fist in an expression of injury. “It’s probably 25 percent of our business that we would lose to neighboring towns — but people will bring the nips back and dump the bottles here. So it’s not solving the problem.”

As he talked to a journalist, Mr. Patel made four sales. in On a warm Monday evening, 10 minutes was all it took. Two of his customers purchased nips. This included a woman who described herself as a single mom and said that she preferred the minis for their low price. “a little bit of drink can go a long way.”

Some nips can cost more than $20 each. The most popular nips cost around $1. This includes the cinnamon-flavored Fireball, which is ubiquitous.“tastes like heaven, burns like hell,” The slogan of the store is “according to its slogan”. At the Bunghole, a closet-size liquor store on Salem’s Derby Street, seasonal stock includes an “adult trick or treat” Fireball nips in a bag of 15.

A Facebook page was created to celebrate the abundance. “Fireballs of Salem,” Residents document and lament their refuse. meaning a small portionThe nip is also known by other names. “My partner and I call them “frat tracks” — follow the trail of Fireball nips to find the local frat house,” wrote one Reddit user from Salem.

David H. Jernigan is a Boston University professor and expert in health policy and law. He has observed the growing opposition to nips, and sees some logical reasoning. in It is not, he said. However, he warned that a rigorous study on the impact of this conditional was lacking.

“Taxes on alcohol are very well studied — we know they save lives,” He said. “But we don’t have that evidence for banning nips.”

Since Chelsea, located north of Boston in a small town, has become the first place to go. in Massachusetts to ban the sales of nips in 2018 — a step the city said reduced alcohol-related hospital admissions — the movement has spread. The islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard followed suit, and no-nip towns are multiplying on Cape Cod.

A ban in New Bedford was once a whaling port. set to take effect Nov. 1, was postponed last week under pressure from owners of the city’s liquor stores, who said they stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in Annual sales

Town meeting voters in Wellfleet in Cape Cod rejected an anti-smoking ban last month. heated debateThe liquor store owners who won the battle offered to donate the money they made from every sale of nip to the town for recycling.

Robert Mellion is the president of the Massachusetts Package Stores Association. He believes that a 5-cent tax on nips would be an effective way to reduce littering. Robert has repeatedly lobbied lawmakers for this change, but without success.

It is difficult to recycle nips even when they are returned empty. The bottles are simply too small. according to the stateThe.

The state of California is considering a ban on nips in Maine The following are some examples of how to get started: Rhode Island failed in Recent years Other places in As Chicago did twenty years ago, Utah, New Mexico and the rest of the country have banned the sale of most nip.

Some residents in Salem imagine eco-friendly alternatives for the tiny plastic containers. Reddit user made a joke about it “a refillable flask program” in Witch City, with “booze on tap in liquor stores.”

William Legault is a former councilor and bartender at the Columbus Society Lounge. He sees bigger issues. “If you want to do something about litter in Salem, ban cigarettes,” He said. “See how well that goes over.”

Mr. Carter made another suggestion. He said that Salemites might dream about the fall of their city every time.

“How about ban the Haunted Happenings,” He said “and don’t bring all the people here?”

Julie Bosman Contributed Reporting