By now the news is out, Four Loko, a malt beverage with 12% alcohol by volume and large amounts of caffeine, is in the cross-hairs of numerous news reports, state governments, local governments and parents across the country. Four Loko is quickly becoming a public health crisis, according to the press.
But, what is the drink ultimately responsible for? Not much. Nine students at CWU were hospitalized with blood-alcohol levels ranging from .12% to .35%, after drinking Four Loko.
Yes, .30% is considered highly dangerous, but these levels of alcohol are probably reachable at any college party. Countless numbers of students are hospitalized every year with alchohol related illness.
This shouldn’t be news to anybody.
And thus began the national obsession with Four Loko, a “dangerous toxic drink”.
On Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer said federal regulators are ready to ban alcoholic energy drinks. He applauded the decision as “the nail in the coffin of these dangerous toxic drinks.”
After Shumer’s statement the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters to makers of the alcoholic energy drinks. The letters warned the manufacturers that their products are in violation of federal law. The FDA is expected to rule the drinks “unsafe” by the end of the week.
Am I the only one who sees something wrong here? Are we too quick to blame the drink and not those who consume it?
Young people and students are attracted to the beverage because of its cheap cost ($2.50 a can) and its high potency. Many who drink Four Loko call it a “blackout in a can” because of its ability to get the drinker drunk and wake them up at the same time, a real value.
We should be proud of our students for thinking so frugally in such harsh economic times.
My point is, now that we’ve essentially banned alcoholic energy drinks should we ban vodka and Redbull? Should we ban diet pills? Should we ban caffeinated gum?
The act of mixing caffeine and alcohol is much older than these “dangerous toxic drinks”. Have you ever had a rum and Coke? Do you like Irish cream in your coffee?
College students often push the envelope when it comes to what is considered “safe” behavior. And they will find other ways to mix alcohol and caffeine.
Those who are in power need a reason to congratulate themselves and banning Four Loko is an easy way of doing just that.
Congratulations! Let’s all celebrate with streamers, huge “Mission Accomplished” banners, pin the tail on the donkey, a dunk tank and massive amounts of self appreciation and handshaking.
Great, now who wants a drink?