Michigan’s liquor control commission banned the commercial sale of Four Loko and dozens of other alcoholic energy drinks last week, stating that they “pose serious health and safety risks to American youth” and “present a threat to the public health and safety.”
This comes as Ramapo College in New Jersey and other colleges across the country ban alcoholic energy drinks on campuses as well.
Attempts to ban the consumption of alcoholic energy drinks are irrational and neglect to acknowledge the role of personal responsibility among consumers, demonstrating unsolicited parental-like decision making for adults over the age of 21.
Outrage against the drinks rose to new heights last month, when several students at Central Washington University were hospitalized after drinking Four Loko.
However, the students, who are under 21, were illegally drinking. They also abused Four Loko by drinking too much and mixing it with liquor, which often contains about 40 percent alcohol.
Many complain that Four Loko’s 23.5 ounce can is too large to contain 12 percent alcohol and that it’s too dangerous to mix alcohol with ingredients like caffeine and guarana, which are the active ingredients in energy drinks.
However, bottles of liquor can contain more than six times as much alcohol as Four Loko. Wine can easily contain just as much at 12 to 15 percent alcohol. Both come in much larger sizes.
After consuming alcohol, someone could easily drink coffee or an energy drink and experience effects similar to Four Loko.
Mixed drinks such as Jager bombs – which mix Jgermeister and Red Bull – and Vodka and Red Bull are already popular choices, and have been for quite some time.
Yet, some still believe that alcoholic energy drinks should not be sold, despite the fact that their two main elements can be purchased together in separate packaging.
Beyond creating loopholes that unfairly target alcoholic energy drink producers, this mentality sets a bad precedent.
In contemporary U.S. society, most commercials featuring alcoholic beverages come with a warning to “Drink Responsibly.”
Heeding this advice is the key, not more government control and intrusion in private citizens’ lives.
With these types of bans, there are countless adults over the age of 21 who would no longer be able to responsibly enjoy a product designed for them because the government determined it’s not safe for irresponsible users.
Regardless of its form, alcohol will always be abused by some individuals. Four Loko is just the latest victim to be dismissed by this reality, and it doesn’t warrant being banned on college campuses or anywhere else.