Nanny State Watch: Loko Edition


The Feds are closing in on the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko:

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, who has pushed the Obama administration to ban the beverages, said Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration is expected to find that caffeine is an unsafe food additive to alcoholic drinks, essentially banning them.

Jacob Sullum has been tracking the trend nationwide:

[On Sunday] New York joined the Four Loko Four, the states (Michigan, Oklahoma, Washington, and Utah) that have banned caffeinated malt beverages. Sort of.

Under pressure from Gov. David Paterson and the New York State Liquor Authority, Four Loko's Chicago-based manufacturer, Phusion Products, has "agreed" to stop shipping the drink to New York. Meanwhile, the New York State Beer Wholesalers Association is urging its members to stop distributing Four Loko and similar products. "We have an obligation to keep products that are potentially hazardous off the shelves," said Dennis Rosen, the liquor authority's chairman, "and there is simply not enough research to show that these products are safe."

Every alcoholic beverage is "potentially hazardous," and none will ever be proven "safe," if by that Rosen means risk-free. But there's no question that a can of Four Loko, which has less alcohol than a bottle of wine and about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, can be consumed without serious adverse effects. If every alcoholic beverage had to pass the reckless college student test, they all would be banned.

Bainbridge notes the bans' absurdity:

Get a hold of a beer. Get a hold of an energy drink. Mix in your preferred ratio. Voila.

Jason Kuznicki is on the same page:

Four Loko’s got nothing much on rum & Coke. That drink brings another risk factor, because you never know quite how much alcohol you’re getting if someone else mixes it for you. Why don’t we ban that, too?

Erik Maza rounds up a series of local news reports reminiscent of Reefer Madness. Dan Okrent discusses the history of banned drinks.

(Photo via Buzzfeed)