Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Banning caffeinated alcoholic drinks a dumb idea

Mixing alcohol with highly caffeinated beverages is a dumb idea.

So is banning them.

The news has been a twitter the past couple of weeks with a series of stories about knuckleheaded young adults dying or nearly dying after consuming too many alcoholic drinks packed with caffeine and the resultant blathering by bureaucrats about how they’re going to ban such drinks.

Here’s a news flash for said bureaucrats – companies such as Phusion Projects began making drinks like Four Loko after noticing that one of the most popular mixed drinks at bars and college parties is rum and Red Bull.

Four Loko is a fruit-flavored drink that is 12 percent alcohol and has about 200 milligrams of caffeine. That’s roughly the equivalent of three beers and three cups of coffee in one 16-ounce can of overly sweet dreck.

But hey, the kids love it. Kids as in American adults over the age of 18 but under the age of 21 who aren’t supposed to be drinking the stuff anyway.

But rather than punish these young adults for breaking the law and consuming a product they’re prohibited from consuming, even though they’re adults, or allowing Darwin’s law of survival of the fittest do its work (drinking too much of this stuff essentially creates energetic drunks who instead of passing out from too much alcohol stay awake and keep drinking it until they die) puritanical officials believe the best course of action is to ban the drinks and prevent anyone, even a moderately responsible adult who doesn’t drink them into a walking coma, from purchasing them.

Keep in mind that they’re not banning alcohol or high-energy drinks. And they’re not preventing bars or adults from mixing alcohol with high energy drinks (or putting a shot of Irish whisky into a cup of coffee). No, they’re banning an enterprising company from mixing alcohol and energy drinks together in a can and selling them to consumers who want them.

This is more than just nanny state, paternalistic government at its worst, or rampant hypocrisy. It’s also ageist and classist.

There are lots of cheap alcoholic drinks wreaking havoc in America, mostly in poor, minority communities. Yet there’s little outcry about banning cheap wine and malt liquor.

But because the young adults dying from Four Loko and the like are mostly white, well-to-do college kids suddenly there’s a hue and cry for the government to save these “children” from themselves.

That’s not the government’s job.

The government certainly can warn people that consuming too much of a product is dangerous but it should be up to the individual adult to decide if they want to ignore such warnings (same goes for seat belts and motorcycle helmets, but that’s a different argument for another day).

It would be one thing if the drinks were poison and consuming any amount led to death. Or if they somehow changed you into a homicidal werewolf. Then perhaps government action would be warranted. That’s not the case here.

The ridiculous irony about this proposed ban is that enterprising young adults will make it moot the day after it goes into effect. They’ll just go back to doing what they were doing before these drinks were invented – mixing rum and Red Bull (or whatever) and getting their energetic drunk on.

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