The sale of wines fortified with potent grain alcohol was discontinued at three downtown liquor stores beginning Friday as part of a Salt Lake study to determine if the drink favored by the down-and-out has been contributing to area crime.
City officials had asked that the wine, sold under such names as "Thunderbird," not be sold at only the state liquor store at 205 W. Fourth South.But Mayor Palmer DePaulis requested two other liquor stores be added to the study after receiving complaints from downtown residents and business owners who fear the problem drinkers would move their business to those stores.
The Utah Commission on Alcoholic Beverage Control agreed Thursday to ban the sale of the extra-strength wines at the state liquor stores at 54 N. Eighth West and at 1457 S. Main.
Commission Chairman J. Bonner Ritchie said including all of the area's liquor stores in the two-month study will provide the best information on whether the drinkers switch to harder alcohol.
Some concern hasbeen raised that vodka, which is 80 percent alcohol compared with the up to 20 percent alcoholic content of fortified wines, would be substituted.
Vodka sells for as little as #3.95 a fith of fortified wine, said Kenneth Wynn, director of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Ritchie suggested that the department post signs where the study is under way, explaning what it is being done at the request of the city and "is not a capricious action."
The study was proposed by the mayor's Downtown Action Committee on Street Problems. The study, which is expected to be finished in October, will focus on the area from Second South to Fifth South and from Main Street to Fifth West.
The city will monitor the number of complaints and arrests for public intoxication, that and vandalism during the ban and compare those figures with the test month, June.