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As Starbucks rolls out plan to sell beer and wine, some buzz is negative

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“This is just a way for Starbucks to turn into bar bucks,” says Michael Scippa, public affairs director for Alcohol Justice, a northern California non-profit based in San Rafael that seeks to protect communities from “the alcohol industry’s harmful practices.” He points to what he calls the sobering statistics on alcohol-related damage, including everything from spousal abuse to driving fatalities and incarceration costs for DUI-related crimes. His group conducted a study four years ago that put that figure at some $38 billion annually.

The move to post wine and beer on the daily menus alongside hot chocolate and milk “normalizes alcohol consumption” in what has been up until now a very family friendly, social setting, Mr. Scippa says. “We consider this a very damaging message to send to young people who will see this when they come in with their friends and parents,” he adds. 

Interviews with morning patrons at the corner Starbucks in Sherman Oaks, Calif., show mixed reactions, if slightly negative to the announcement that beer and wine might soon be served.

“If it turns into a bar atmosphere, we definitely won’t bring him anymore,” says Elisha Larson, sitting with her 18-month-old son and her husband Joel, a minister, who come as a threesome about once a month. “It will surprise me if it becomes that. People don’t think of Starbucks for wine and beer,” she says.

“I want to come here for quiet and to get away,” says Alexandra Gomez, an international exchange nanny from Bogota, Columbia. There, she says, the famous coffee shops are Juan Valdez, and they don’t serve beer or wine.

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