New kids' drink sparkles up debate

Monday, April 23, 2007

A glass of sparkling wine.

A new drink called Robby Bubble has sparkled up some sparkled debate with distributors and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Calgary, Alberta.

The drink, similar to sparkling wine, is a non-alcoholic sparkling drink which is currently for sale in Alberta liquor stores. The bottle has the words "Party, Party!" with cartoon characters. Their slogan is "Celebrate like the grown-ups" and is shaped as a champagne bottle. It is under the approval of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.

Tracy Franklin, president of MADD in Calgary, said: "It's calling out to kids, but the whole thing is geared as a champagne bottle, as an alcohol product ... Do we want to give them something, although it's non-alcoholic, and have them partying like an adult?"

Other "adult products" marketed to children, such as candy cigarettes, have been banned in Canada. Studies have shown a link between the marketing of candy cigarettes to children and the promotion of smoking in later life. It had been shown that tobacco companies cooperated with candy manufacturers in the design of candy cigarettes.

The Tobacco Act legislation in Canada has eliminated the ability of companies to market tobacco-looking products to children. In Section 27, the Act states, "No person shall furnish or promote a tobacco product if any of its brand elements is displayed on a non-tobacco product, other than an accessory, or is used with a service, if the non-tobacco product or service is associated with young persons or could be construed on reasonable grounds to be appealing to young persons."

President of the German company responsible for the distribution of Robby Bubble, Darryl Weinbren, defended his product saying it is non-alcoholic and parents are responsible for serving their children the drink.

"I can understand Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and certainly I respect their objectives and what they are after. There wasn't any intention from our point of view to encourage kids to drink alcohol. It was just a matter of trying to find something that would meet a family celebration with something for their kids."

A spokeswomen for the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, Marilyn Carlyle-Helms, said liquor stores can distribute non-alcoholic drinks and if there were a health concern they would have disapproved them.