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British drinks regulator bans whiskey with Tommy gun-shaped bottle

Britain's alcohol industry regulator gave retailers until October to halt all orders of "Cosa Nostra" whiskey from a Polish company on grounds its glamorization of violence and criminal activity was "irresponsible" and "seriously offensive". Photo courtesy The Portman Group
Britain's alcohol industry regulator gave retailers until October to halt all orders of "Cosa Nostra" whiskey from a Polish company on grounds its glamorization of violence and criminal activity was "irresponsible" and "seriously offensive". Photo courtesy The Portman Group

July 14 (UPI) -- Britain's drinks regulator has given retailers three months to halt sales of a Poland-supplied "Cosa Nostra" branded whiskey with a bottle in the shape of a Thompson sub-machine gun, ruling it glorified violent, aggressive, dangerous and illegal behavior, causing serious and widespread offense.

The Portman Group trade body which regulates the alcohol industry issued the Retailer Alert Bulletin as a last resort after Bartox Bartol ignored a request to ensure the whiskey complied with its code on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks, Portman said in a news release Thursday.

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Portman's complaints panel noted the use of a "Tommy" gun-shaped bottle created a direct link between the drink and a dangerous weapon together with naming it after an infamous faction of the Italian Mafia.

Together with multiple references on the primary and secondary packaging, the overall effect was one that emphasized the product's connection to violence and glamorized criminal activity when gun crime was on the rise in Britain, causing serious and widespread offense in communities it impacted.

The box features two Tommy guns crossed over each other and images of bullet holes.

Likewise, the panel ruled those directly affected by the violence perpetrated by Cosa Nostra would consider packaging glamourizing the Cosa Nostra seriously offensive.

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"In light of rising gun crime in the U.K., it is deeply irresponsible of an alcohol producer to glamorize firearms and market a product in this form," said Independent Complaints Panel Chair Nicola Williams.

Williams added there were "multiple and clear signs" that the whiskey bottles breached code, noting a previous complaint against the company's Red Army Vodka.

"I hope Bartex Bartol takes note that such products are completely unacceptable," said Williams.

The panel added that historical depictions of organized crime frequently employed the Tommy gun such that the average consumer would immediately recognize it as a firearm even though it was long out of use.

The Thompson .45 caliber machine gun gained its notoriety in prohibition America where it became the weapon of choice of organized crime gangs. It was dubbed the "Chicago typewriter" due to the typewriter-like sound of it being fired in the distance, heard all across Chicago's south side during the 1920s.

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