By Katie Kieffer
If an under-age college student overdoses on vodka and is rushed to the emergency room, do we ban vodka from society? No, because we recognize that vodka was not the reason for the hospitalization – irresponsible behavior was. So, why is Washington state’s Atty. Gen. Rob McKenna trying to ban caffeinated alcoholic beverages from his state?
Why is Sen. John Tassoni Jr. (D-R.I.) pushing forward legislation to ban Four Loko from Rhode Island? The drink is already banned at the University of Rhode Island, so why does Sen. Tassoni want to push the entire state back to the Prohibition era?
Liberal politicians tend to blame corporations for the evils in the world instead of offering real solutions. So, when students from Washington State University were rushed to the emergency room with what The New York Times reports as “high levels of alcohol poisoning,” politicians blamed Chicago company, Phusion Projects.
Phusion Projects is an alcoholic beverage company with a small business success story. It is just five years old, and has already expanded to do business in 45 states. Phusion Products creates thousands of job opportunities and donates a portion of its profits to charity.
One of Phusion’s products is Four Loko, a caffeinated alcoholic beverage that comes in a variety of fruity flavors such as Cranberry-Lemonade, Watermelon, Uva (grape) and Lemon-Lime. Four Loko’s manufacturer, Phusion Products, received scrutiny from U.S. state attorneys general and the media as soon as it became successful and started gaining market share.
Four Loko does have a high alcoholic content (12 percent) and there are potential risks associated with combining alcohol and caffeine. But, there are also risks associated with driving without first getting seven-to-nine hours of sleep. Should we ban tired drivers from the road? Good luck getting anyone to show up to work.
From a common sense persepective, singling out Four Loko is a waste of time. If young people want a beverage with a high alcohol by volume (ABV), the 12.0 % ABV of Four Loko pales in comparison to the average ABV of liquors, which can run up to 95% ABV:
- Vodka – 35 – 70 % average ABV
- Whiskey – 40% average ABV
- Jägermeister – 35% average ABV
- Rum – 40% average ABV
- Brandy – 35 – 60% average ABV
There is currently no evidence that Four Loko is targeted directly to minors. Nevertheless, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) – the same man who wants to control Facebook, as I discussed here – is leading the charge against Four Loko. Sen. Schumer has asked the FDA to investigate whether Four Loko is targeting minors in its advertising.
It is interesting that there are only two documented cases to-date of college students drinking Four Loko at parties and then receiving hospitalization. Furthermore, Four Loko was merely one of many different beverages and illegal substances that were consumed at the aforementioned parties.
Just last week, The Michigan Liquor Control Commission banned Four Loko and 54 similar drinks from the state, allowing manufactures just 30 days to pull their products off store shelves. Phusion Products responded to this ban by saying,”The commission did not provide advance notice of its proposed action, voted on the ban with only three of the five commissioners in attendance, and did not give parties who will be affected by the ban any opportunity to be heard.”
At the end of the day, we need to ask ourselves, will banning substances like Four Loko from colleges or from entire states stop young and irresponsible students from putting their lives at risk while having fun?
Christine Binko, a junior at Boston University, recently explained why she thinks her peers gravitate toward the drink: “You can get drunk for $5 all night.” If students can’t buy Four Loko on the free market, they will concoct homemade versions by mixing energy drinks with alcohol, and still get drunk for $3 or $4 all night.
This isn’t rocket science, Atty. Gen. McKenna, Sen. Schumer and Sen. Tassoni: Blame the naiveté of youth, not small business, for college drinking parties that go awry.