Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Monday directing the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to remove Russian-made alcohol from shelves statewide. The governor is calling for such measures in support of the “thousands” of Ukrainian Americans who call North Carolina home.
Executive order 251 states: “Russia’s dangerous actions have already led to a significant additional deployment of American troops, including thousands deployed from North Carolina; North Carolina stands with Ukraine and strongly condemns Russia’s actions. … North Carolina seeks to ensure that its actions do not aid Russia, whether directly or indirectly.”
The order instructs the ABC board to review the list of approved products and suspend Russian entities “as quickly as practicable,” a press release from the governor’s office noted.
The executive order comes after Senator Michael Garrett (D-Guilford) wrote to the ABC Commission on Saturday, asking for Russian-made vodka to be pulled from stores indefinitely. The move follows in the footsteps of numerous other states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and New Hampshire, whose governors have requested a ban on products from Russia.
Monday evening the North Carolina ABC Commission announced Hammer + Sickle, Beluga, and Russian Standard have been discontinued for now. It won’t affect brands like Stolichnaya and Smirnoff, which are produced in other countries.
According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, at the beginning of 2021 only a little more than 1% of vodka in the U.S. is imported from Russia. It makes up $18.5 million of the $1.4 billion in vodka imports.
The call to suspend the products is largely symbolic, yet Cooper didn’t stop with the ABC Commission. He also directed the Department of Administration, Division of Purchase and Contract to review and terminate agreements with Russian entities. The governor encouraged local municipalities to divest in Russian assets and refrain from signing contracts with the nation’s companies to ensure no money is funneled back into the country.
“This order sends a strong message and helps ensure no public dollars or operations from North Carolina will benefit Russia and its unjustified aggression,” Cooper said in a release.
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