California's Board of Equalization (BOE) has voted to conduct a review of how alcopops are classified and taxed in the state following concerns over underage drinking from high school seniors.

The vote was held after a hearing in Sacramento involving students, public interest groups and representatives from the alcohol industry. Student organisations petitioned the board in November, prompting this week's hearing.

The students argued that RTDs contain distilled spirits and should therefore be taxed at the higher rate reserved for spirits of US$3.30 a gallon, rather than current rate of US$0.20 a gallon, which is equivalent to the duty on beer.

The young people involved represent California Friday Night Live Partnership, Students Making a Community Change, and California Youth Council, all groups formed to tackle underage drinking.

The BOA said that the vote has prompted a series of public meetings with taxpayers, interested parties, and industry officials to discuss tax rates and product classification, but does not immediately change tax rates or regulations.

BOE board chairman John Chiang said: "I want to make sure these products are being classified and taxed properly under California law. A lot of questions have been raised, including curbing underage drinking and loss of state revenue. I believe that a full, public review is the best way to look into these matters."