Young people are different. We know this. It has been ever thus, plus it’s in the data. And in the marijuana legalization era, when a substance touted as a safer alternative to alcohol is gradually and inexorably becoming available in store, young people, or something around them, are killing bar life.
For a variety of reasons, today’s “youth” (for the purposes of this discussion, let’s consider anyone under 30 “young” here) have different habits than their elders.
Some of this has to do with health and education, like the fact that young people smoke fewer cigarettes than their elders. Much of it is social and economic, like the millennials excoriated for spending too much money on avocado sandwiches and not enough of it on buying homes, because crushing debt, inflated housing prices and deflated wages (thanks, Boomers!) make for a potent broad historic force.
But contrary to prior warnings, some of which have helped inspire major alcohol brands’ major investments into marijuana companies, it’s not marijuana that’s causing a final last call.
According to a new report from BeverageDaily, the craft beer industry (which young people seem to like just fine, judging by the sea of IPAs in which most youthful American cities are drowning) is jeopardized by “the iPhone and dating apps.”
In an interview with The Independent, Bob Pease, the president and CEO of the Brewers Association, a trade group representing small and craft beer-makers, outlined the reasons why technology is the much stronger force shaping significant cultural shifts.
To understand why, consider the data. As a recent analysis of the National Alcohol Survey found, cannabis and alcohol go hand-in-hand: aside from tobacco, marijuana is the “most commonly used drug among those who drink,” researchers found. Cannabis isn’t the issue. Now let us consider the purpose of a bar. For many, a bar is a place to meet a person you’d like to have a relationship with. And dating apps on smartphones like Tinder are more efficient and effective places to do that — meaning at least as far as that function is concerned, bars are becoming obsolete. There is “little evidence than cannabis has affected beer sales,” according to a recent Brewers Association analysis. Rather, “we think the iPhone is a bigger threat right now, probably, to beer than cannabis.”
“You used to go out to meet people, go out to a bar,” Pease told the Independent. “Now you just swipe right on your phone, you don’t need to go anywhere.”
As anyone who has tried to use Tinder as anything other than a magnet for unsolicited dick pics knows, this is only partially true. Once you meet someone on Tinder, you generally need a venue to have an in-person meeting. And because alcohol is a better social lubricant than coffee and because nobody really wants to welcome a total stranger into the intimacy of their home, a bar is a common choice for that meeting.
Pease’s warnings may be premature. There are no reports of bars closing en masse, and there are definitely reports of bars that would like to allow patrons to legally consume cannabis in smoking areas while also enjoying alcohol. In that way, perhaps what could rescue the not-yet-suffering alcohol industry from an iPhone apocalypse is marijuana after all.
TELL US, would you patronize a bar that let you smoke cannabis on the premises?