Readers Say

Should nips be banned in Boston? Here’s why readers are split.

52% of readers polled said they don’t think Boston should ban nips.

Hyde Park, MA - 10/21/21 - Many alcohol bottlers sell their products in “nip” bottles. The group Keep Hyde Park Beautiful is making an effort to collect 10,000 discarded liquor “nips” bottles from the streets. With no deposits allowed on the tiny bottles, and no way to recycle them, the nips are a persistent litter problem. (Lane Turner/Globe Staff) Reporter: (Brian MacQuarrie) Topic: (22nips)
Lane Turner / The Boston Globe

Nips, or miniature bottles of alcohol, could become a thing of the past if City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo has his way. Arroyo recently raised a proposal to outlaw the sale of small alcohol bottles up to 100 ml and we asked how they felt about the suggested ban. 

Of the 125 readers who responded to our survey, a slight majority, or 52% said they don’t think Boston should ban nips. The remaining 48% of readers polled said the ban was a good idea for the city. 

Most readers against the proposed ban said they were most concerned about the small business owners whose sales might be impacted. 


“How many more ‘health concern’ policies must small business owners endure?” Tim from Watertown said. “This isn’t about public health it’s about scoring points to advance politically.”

Do you think Boston should outlaw the sale of miniature alcohol bottles, or nips?

Towns that have already implemented bans on nips include Newton, Chelsea, Wareham, Mashpee, Nantucket, and Falmouth. Arroyo has pointed to the drop in individuals taken into police custody and hospitalized because of alcohol-related problems as a reason to move forward with a ban in Boston. 

Another big concern for Arroyo is the impact on the environment. Nips are not recyclable or biodegradable and are often littered over the streets. In less than two months, residents of Hyde Park picked up 10,000 nip bottles during a neighborhood anti-littering campaign. 

“The data is clear that in cities that have banned the sale of nips, there is a significant and positive impact on public health,” Arroyo said in a news release. “We should put the wellbeing of our communities first by banning the sale of nips in Boston as well.”

Amir from Boston said while he doesn’t personally mind nips being sold in stores, he’s in favor of banning them. 


“When presented with the evidence of the impact nips have on the environment, health, alcoholism, and crime, I am in favor of banning them,” he said. 

Below you’ll find a sampling of responses from readers sharing why they think the Boston City Council should or shouldn’t move forward with banning the sale of nips in the city. 

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Do you think Boston should outlaw the sale of miniature alcohol bottles, or nips?


“I feel this is just posturing and won’t really change anything aside from the towns adjacent to banned ones seeing an uptick in sales of nips. Additionally, the banning of nips will just encourage people to buy a pint or whatever the next size up would be.” — W. Prescott, Boston

“If we are concerned about litter, we should look at banning all plastic and coffee cups. It’s not fair to pick on one industry. Other litter is just as plentiful.” — Sam, Cambridge

“You’re never going to solve people’s problems with alcohol by banning a limited form of packaging. People will just go to another packaging of the same product (i.e a flask bottle instead of multiple nips). If the city is truly concerned about public health, emphasize the resources that are there to help those battling alcohol addiction and focus on treatment instead of banning a product that is used safely by exponentially more Bostonians than those who abuse it. As far as littering, I understand the environmental impact but, personally, I’d rather have plastic nip bottles left behind than broken glass which many flask-sized bottles are.” — Bob, South End


“The problem isn’t the size of the bottle. It’s the person drinking it. If they do away with nips then the following week they’ll just be finding pints instead!” — Kevin, Quincy

“Banning 50 ml only forces people to buy 100 or 200 ml bottles, thus encouraging them to drink more. I see just as many Dunkin Donut cups and masks on the street as I do 50 ml bottles. Responsible sales by the package stores and more trash cans on the streets will help solve the problems cited.” — Ben S., Dorchester


“Should have been done years ago. They create massive amounts of garbage as they end up on streets and sidewalks. Single-use crap that people drink and then drop or throw out the window. A nuisance to society.” — John G., Quincy

“Nips are consumed by people walking or driving for a quick buzz. Drivers are the biggest problem.  If the data is correct about reduced alcohol-induced reports in towns that have banned nips, what’s left to discuss?” — Greg B., South Dartmouth

“The environmental impact is brutal and if nips are related to more drinking, deaths, and accidents then let’s ban them.” — Jerry C., Milton

“I think it would alleviate the amount of litter in the community. I live four doors down from a package store and every morning I have to pick up and sweep nips from the previous night.” — Barry W., Roxbury


“These things are designed to be discarded. No place at all for them in the city. If you own a liquor store and actually think a ban on nips is going to harm your business, cry me a river.” — Jack, Allston occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.