‘We stand with Ukraine’: Utah state liquor stores remove Russian-made products
Amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox issued an executive order Saturday that required state liquor stores to remove all Russian-made products.
“Russia’s ruthless attack on a sovereign nation is an egregious violation of human rights,” Cox said in a press release. “Utah stands in solidarity with Ukraine and will not support Russian enterprises, no matter how small the exchange.”
Other states like New Hampshire and Ohio made similar moves. Utah’s executive order also called on the Governor’s Economic Office of Opportunity to review state procurements.
Tiffany Clason, executive director of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said they support the governor’s move. Clason said so far only one liquor, the Russian Standard vodka, has been affected.
She said the mandate is more about the cause than the impact.
“We don't anticipate our operations to really be fiscally crippled by this in any way,” Clason said. “Whether the economic impact is small or large to Russia is a moot point because it's symbolic. It shows that people here, halfway across the world, they care, they're supportive and we want to stand with Ukraine.”
Clason said for now, the vodka and other Russian products will be kept in warehouses. But she also sees this as an opportunity to purchase locally-made products.
“I think it's really important and it keeps our economic dollars here, really local and supports our local economy and jobs,” she said.
Clason wants people to know that although there are liquor products that may look Russian — many are Latvian.
Matt Caldwell, who lives in West Valley City, said he’s not sure if the Russian liquor ban is the way to go.
“To me, they could have done some kind of fundraiser with the stuff that's already bought,” Caldwell said as he was shopping in the state’s new liquor store in West Valley. “One thing that doesn't make sense is that we stop buying their alcohol, but how much gas and oil do we still buy from them? So to me, our priorities are kind of skewed there.”
According to Utah Booze News — Fox 13’s Alcohol Policy Podcast — the state’s most consumed spirit in 2021 was Tito's Handmade Vodka.
Clason said in the meantime, they are working to get some Ukrainian vodka on the shelves.