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Lots of email about the Four Loko controversy.

One MNB user wrote:

As a 24 year old male, I'm probably exactly the demographic the drink targets. I can tell you, it has reached similar levels of attention among my young adult peer group that "getting iced" with a Smirnoff Ice drink did just a few months ago. I even saw a couple of people dressed up for Halloween as different flavors of the drink. I had a can with me that night, and I laughed at how easy it was to give away to a friend. ("You mean it? I can have ALL of the rest of it???")

I was kind of shocked it was on the market when I first learned of it, and my friends and I all knew it wouldn't be around for long. If Sparks couldn't survive, Four Loko had no chance.

Of course, we all know that banning ! it won't stop kids (or young adults, or whatever) from getting sick from over drinking. I laugh when news articles about Four Loko mention reports of young people getting sick from drinking too much of the stuff, as if over-drinking among college students is rare enough to be newsworthy or unique to Four Loko. Four Loko is a chance for lawmakers to posture about public health concerns. I know it will be gone soon, but banning Four Loko will do nothing to stop young people from drinking too much or mixing caffeine and alcohol. At bars, jager bombs (as well as Vegas bombs or any kind of bomb) and Red Bull Vodkas are some of the most popular drinks, not to mention a more mundane Coke and whiskey.

I have to admit though, Four Loko is krazy...

From another MNB user:

What’s next? Banning Rum and Coke because the Coke has caffeine? What about all the sugar in alcohol?

If you’re an adult, you should be left to make up your own mind, not have the government doing it for you. Look where that got the last round of politicians.

And another MNB user wrote:

I support you in theory. A great take from a parental viewpoint, but the reality is now the twenty something kids just have to walk from the beer & liquor department to the energy drink aisle and end up with the same thing.

Remember prohibition?

Another MNB user chimed in:

As a parent, I completely understand your position, and emotionally I want to agree. But this seems to me an over-reach by another government organization.  If the drinks are harmful, then force them to comply like any other harmful vice…warning labels, limited access, etc.  But to allow an outright ban is not the way we in a free society control these type of products, and again where does it stop.  If I am not mistaken, cigarettes have a similar effect, a short term awakening while simultaneously providing a narcotic effect and I am not hearing any outright bans going into effect here!!

You put up a referendum to ban all smoking, and I’ll vote for it. It is a product designed to addict and then kill you.

Another MNB user wrote:

I believe this should be a significant concern for everyone and am please to see someone somewhere is doing something about it.

Not only do I agree with you when you state “How much notice needs to be given? So we need a fatality?” I would say that if the truth be known there may have already been a fatality or certainly damage done to someone from the practice of combining caffeine with alcohol.

My own experience being from having a son of legal drinking age, using what was obviously not sound judgment, spend a overnight visit in the hospital with a blood alcohol level of 0.28 from drinking Jagermeister and Red bull hovering somewhere just above, or should I say below, an alcohol induced comma. This poor judgment I believe stems from the fact that because of the caffeine, a potentially deadly amount of alcohol can be consumed and then it’s too late. Not to mention that in college it’s a socially acceptable thing to do.

What is most concerning is in knowing for any of us that work for a company that sells both Jagermeister and Red bull, that few if any company would even consider pulling either of these items off their shelves.

And you already know the majority of retailers will put any new item on their shelves such as Four Loco or the like, for a marketing fee. So, what is truly at the root of this issue? Hmmm? Watch, someone will likely blame our President for this too, just to “feed the fear” for 2012.

My problem with products like Four Loko is that while they say they are in favor of responsible drinking, they are designed to promote irresponsibility. They won’t admit it, but that’s what they are implying.

Do I want situations like this in which the government steps in? No. I prefer that companies act in a socially responsible way when they create products. But when they do not, I react like a parent, not a constitutional lawyer. (And I continue to maintain that if these companies were run by people who had any semblance of parental common sense, they would not be making this crap.)

I saw my college senior son yesterday, and I asked him if he’d tried Four Loko. he said yes, and that it knocked him on his butt. He said that he prefers to nurse a beer, and that Four Loko seemed designed to have a big and fast impact. (He’s over 21, by the way.)

I just think these products are irresponsible.

Will people - especially young people - find a way to combine alcohol and caffeine on their own? Of course they will. Young people tend to have DNA that often is set to the “behave irresponsibly” mode. I was that way, and I have no reason to think my kids won’t experiment.

But do we have to wrap up the tools of irresponsible behavior, put them in a brightly colored can, throw a promotional campaign behind it, and sell them on the bigger high, the faster thrill, the deeper dive into reckless behavior that can end up with them in the hospital, or worse?

I think not.

This isn’t about prohibition. This is about common sense.
KC's View: