A lot of you have piped in to tell me how wrong I am about these drinks. My gut instinct is always to question what people think they are achieving when they ban something that people want and to avoid this kind of paternalism, but this makes sense:
As many health professionals have said: the caffeine keeps kids conscious long enough to drink a lot more of the malt liquor which tends to lead to alcohol poisoning. As I read one doctor to say in an article about this: “there is a reason you pass out when you drink to much.”
Can people still mix their own? Yep.
Will college kids still poison themselves with alcohol? Yep.
Does either of those things mean that we ought to suffer products that make alcohol poisoning more likely? Nope.
I’ll back off my statement that this is complete idiocy from the White House. Well intentioned, and not without cause. I still doubt it will do anything. People were popping No-Doz before going out long before Four Loko ever hit the streets.
Personally I wonder if in the alternate universe where the local media didn’t decide everyone at that party in central Washington had been given rufies, if this ever would have been on the radar for any of us.
As a liberal I don’t want a Nanny state. Don’t save me from myself. Let me figure it out.
As a liberal, I wish the Nanny state would ban tea bags.
And that’s probably where Four Loko got the idea.
That said, if people started splashing bleach in their eyes for fun, it wouldn’t justify “Extreme Burn Sensation Eye Drops” as a retail product.
I think companies shouldn’t be allowed to sell these pre-mixed.
Sometimes wonder about the freedom-lovin’, rugged independent libertarian types who whine when faced with the prospect of having to the emasculating nanny-state force them to (horror) mix their own drinks.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but what came to mind was binary nerve gas. The two components are relatively harmless until they are mixed.
Of course, the real toxin here is the combination of alcohol and testosterone. Caffeine just gives the other two components more time to mix together fully.
Wrong. And. Also. Wrong.
This is not a nanny state. As is so obvious, you have the complete freedom to go and drink yourself to death whenever and however you choose. There are stores that will gladly sell you enough liquor for you to kill yourself.
But you don’t have the right to use our society to create a corporation to introduce and push highly dangerous* products on the public.
Look, go down a gallon of Comet mixed with Lysol and 100-year old Scotch all you want. But don’t think you can create a drink in slick packaging with these ingredients and sell it out on the market.
Part of the social contract we have is that we, the public, have some reasonable security that the appropriate government agency has oversight to try and prevent dangerous* products reaching the consumer.
*I don’t mean to imply the government has a duty to protect us from all dangers; otherwise we wouldn’t have automobiles or a lot of legalized drugs. Or Fox News. But to call this action a nanny-state is ridiculous.
True they were popping No-Doz, and using cocaine,meth and other stimulants to keep their binge going, but they at least had the faintest glimmer of an idea that it was a risky strategy.
I think that many of the teens– and it usually is teens that will use drinks like this, are gonna be blindsided by the effects.
I still think banning Four Loko does nothing to address the real problem of binge drinking.
Mandatory education for college-aged and high school kids about the danger of binge drinking and alcohol poisoning would be far more effective.
Just don’t touch my chocolate candy flavored cigarettes.
Fucking liberal, listening to facts and information and shit, and changing your mind just because you were wrong! Real Americans stick with dumb ideas even harder when somebody points out how stupid they are.
Can anyone show me any examples where Prohibition has worked, you know, systemically? Because I’m not seeing any.
Can anyone show me any examples where Prohibition has worked, you know, systemically? Because I’m not seeing any.
Actually, I’d argue that redbull and vodka, which was a popular party drink 2-4 years ago was what gave them the idea. (I’m 31 and never heard of the No Doz and drinking comb.)
John, thanks for posting that you’re…if not wrong…at least reconsidering your stance.
This is the kind of thing that I wish I’d see more of on mainstream sites. On most of those you don’t even get a correction when they’ve been proven flat-out wrong.
I’ll go with that for the most part.
But I would also be willing to bet some or the larger bottling companies were keeping an eye on these intial products. Somewhere there was a memo listing a line of caffinated “single malt lemonaides” as something for marketing to look into.
This suddenly made that idocy “not worth it” on a mass-market level.
Are they banning Irish coffee, too? How about my favorite, Rum and Coke?
If you’re going to suggest that throwing support behind your on federal bureaucracy is “Complete Idiocy”, I can’t wait for another “Why don’t Democrats every support each other?” thread.
A group of professional health experts have found something to be unsafe, but the Drug Czar is supposed to just shrug and throw the report back in the FDA’s face?
Has the idea of an administrative official taking it’s own body of scientists seriously become so bizarre and laughable that approving of your own department’s findings is “Complete Idiocy”? What the hell is the FDA for if not to do these studies and release these findings? Why have an FDA at all, if you’re just going to call every bit of regulation foolish and dismiss it all carte blanche?
Fuck that noise. I’ll take reality-based analysis over this knee jerk shit any day.
Can’t we make a plutocracy argument out of this?
I mean, it’s pretty obvious the real issue isn’t that these things get people drunk, the issue is that they do so for the low low price of $2 a can.
Clearly only our corporate overlords are allowed to get their buzz on.
@WyldPirate: Dude, we, and I say this nearly a decade out of college, know the dangers of binge drinking. And do it anyways.
Why? Cause by the time you get to the dangerous point, your ability to judge is shot, so any rational thought you had is gone. Hell, I got caught this past 4th, as I had one mixed drink too many and then had about 2 more after that.
Thankfully that’s about a once every 5-7 years occasion.
I eagerly await the frat boy version of the “Skoalrebel redneck wants to impeach Obama for having the FDA ban flavored dip” viral video.
I had never heard of this stuff until Jon Stewart did a thing about it yesterday. Then today I saw it here. So, taking a break from reading blogs, I went to Wawa (best convenience store around) and was in line behind… someone buying four Four Lokos. Did I never notice it before, or is this something that is just now blowing up huge?
OK, I’ve been looking for the caffeine content of Four Loko, and it is apparently not disclosed. Alcohol content is 24%.
That link does list the caffeine content of other similar drinks, btw. Also btw, a 5 oz cup of coffee typically contains anywhere from 25 to 110 milligrams of caffeine, depending on coffee and brew method. A 12 oz Coke has about 46 mg caffeine.
Too bad this argument is going on without actual numbers being used by either side.
I don’t think anyone is using those spray cans with Chloro-floro-carbons anymore. Or leaded paint. Absinthe – until they re-legalized it – was generally in short supply in the States.
Besides, they’re not prohibiting mixing caffeine and alcohol. They’re just prohibiting this particular drink. I bet that if the FDA bans the product, you’ll see 100% less of it on store shelves by this time next year.
Krispy Creme. McDonalds. Kentucky Fried Chicken, etc.
Coupled with Game Boys, PS3, XBox…etc
Coupled with sitting on your ass through adolescence and adulthood.
Are we to then ban the above products and make it mandatory that everyone doesn’t sit on their ass for their entire lives?
It’s what is done with the corporation’s substances. It’s dying slowly or rapidly. Where in the hell do you draw the line?
Washington Rule: Thou Shalt Be Seen As Doing Something.
Ban my caffeine-alcohol drink today and my Krispy-Kreme hamburger tomorrow.
First they came for Four Loki…
There’s simply no way this does anything positive, and every way that this reinforces the Nanny State meme that the Republicans have going.
It is interesting to note that Maine apparently has a local drink that is widely popular, and consists of a mixture of coffee and alcohol (NYT w/in the last week or so). Yet they haven’t had any epidemic of problems from that drink.
To me, that suggests that the primary issue here is the typical consumer (i.e., young overindulgers for Four Loko vs. more experienced, moderate drinkers for the Maine tipple of choice). Which makes a ban on the Four Loko likely to prove ineffective, but I can’t get all that worked up about the Gov’t trying to do the right thing.
Yep, Four Loko is entirely too dangerous a product to sell.
Now excuse me while I enjoy this tasty Rum and Coke and wash it down with some Irish coffee and a vodka and Red Bull.
I think Cole got it right in the first post.
The idea is out their now, and an equivalent is very easy to make. The dividing line between what will be banned and permitted is very arbitrary, so close substitutes may soon be on the market, unless the ban is on any product that mixes any caffeine and alcohol, which I find hard to believe.
I have read about cheap synthetic speed and hallucinogens that can leave people permanently disabled after one overdose, or even after a regular does to which they had a bad reaction. Banning makes sense for that kind of thing.
For this, I still have my doubts.
Criminalization is not good approach to drug abuse problems in the vast majority of cases. This is another thoughtless reflexive reaction that follows that failed path. So, I still oppose this kind of approach.
Wrong. It’s been tried. It doesn’t work. They all think they are invincible, and none of the bad things they were lectured about will ever happen to them.
Parents setting an example might work in some cases. My kid doesn’t drink (at least not AFAIK). I think it’s because he rarely sees adults drink (I’m good for about five beers a year).
Cam had an actual sensible idea from the thread below:
Or is it a horrifying manifestation of the nanny state to tell the manufacturers that they can’t package dangerous quantities of their product into a single serving? It might at least slow some kids down if you have to open four separate cans to get the same amount that you currently get in a single can.
(Yes, I’m sure the can has some stupid label claiming that it’s four servings, but come on.)
Also, bring back lawn darts!
They can have my Rum and Coke when they pry it from my COLD DEAD HAND!
5 hour energy!!!
All it does is not make it seem ok by marketing it.
That’s a step.
You want to stop binge drinking, you have to address the reasons why its happening, one reason is the drinking age is too damn high.
My point is that the ban of these specific drinks won’t solve the problem. My point is that while not completely foolproof, education is a better solution.
Some people are stupid and will fuck up. Some people will dance near the edge and get away with being stupid.
You;ve danced near the edge. I have as well. We were lucky.
I think the nanny-state approach is idiotic, though.
@Comrade Dread: While you’re at it, put a gun to your head and scream “Second Amendment Rights!”
The goal is not to stop you from doing something you know is stupid. The goal is to protect you from something that is more dangerous than you realize.
I suppose the FDA could have gone with the new cigarette half-package style warning labels, but I’m sure everyone would still be bitching all the same.
Again, exactly; those who compare this ruling to Prohibition are mirroring the people that want us all free to put as much Greenhouse Gases in the air as we want, consequences be damned. Government should be able to regulate CO2 emissions in a reasonable way and government should be able to regulate these products in a similarly reasonable way.
@MoeLarryAndJesus: Hell yes.
Also, kids these days are pussies. Back in the 1980s, you’d see people get down with an 8-ball of blow and a bottle of Jack and nobody died. Jesus. Bunch of weaklings and crybabies.
I agree with this completely. That, and our childish attitude in America towards alcohol—and sex–and many other things.
It’s also a much more expensive solution. If you want to fund the “Teach kids about the dangers of mixing uppers and downers during a binge drinking marathon”, please set up the fund raiser. I’ll chip in a few bucks.
But given the current “Thou Shalt Not Spend Tax Dollars On Non-Military Expenditures” crowd in Congress, I doubt the FDA will be able to fund it themselves.
This does nothing to address the drinking culture in the states.
I believe they already get that through D.A.R.E.
This is not a case of kids not having the science behind intoxication explained to them, this is a case where the kids WANT to speed it up ASAP and being egged on by their friends.
Water has killed millions as well. Come on. I guess a marshmallow is a dangerous product if one shoves it half-way down your throat.
As much as I am in favor of the legalization of ALL drugs (including cocaine, that’s right, I said it) I don’t think a company should be allowed to create and market a “Zippy Speed Ball” combining yayo, heroin, speed, etc.
For the record, I am not making any judgment on this current controversy because, frankly, I don’t even know what it is all about. I’ve not heard of this particular product, but evidently kids are drinking the shit out of it and dying. I wonder what the overall number of kids dying from alcohol poisoning is and what percentage comes from this drink. Perhaps it is just the outrage du jour for the media.
Higher alcohol content leads to a greater chance of alcohol poisoning, so lets ban anything over 10 proof. Further, selling alcohol in multiple packs certainly leads to a greater chance of alcohol poisoning, so lets ban cases and six packs. Lets limit alcoholic beverage purchases to one a day. That will stop alcohol poisoning!
I doubt there is anything inherently more dangerous in this product than there is in Mad Dog 20/20. I find the argument that caffeine could keep you awake to drink more before you pass out to be silly. First of all, your gag reflex kicks in long before that, so unless caffeine is an anti-spasmodic too, I doubt it can really increase any likelihood of alcohol poisoning. Sounds like another drug war crusade where all the sides line up to fund raise and score political points. Throw in In-Bev trying to eliminate competition and everyone is happy. Oh, and Four Loco is happy as their sales this next weekend will sky rocket everywhere it is on sale.
No, it’s not, because a “solution” that manifestly does not work is not a solution.
The writers for “Friday Night Lights” know their shit when it comes to what actually goes on in American high schools. They had an alcohol-education-class scene in last week’s episode, and they got it exactly right. Eyerolls and text messaging.
I would like to restate in this thread that the FDA did not find that the alcohol/caffeine combo is dangerous. They ruled that there is not enough proof that the combination is safe.
In my opinion it’s the amount of alcohol in the drinks that is the major problem. If they were around 6% alcohol you would have to drink a lot more of it to cause a huge problem. Chugging two 24 oz cans of 12% alcohol is most likely just as bad as chugging two 24 oz cans of 12% alcohol + some caffeine.
Exactly. How many kids drinking these things realize they’re drinking the alcoholic equivalent of a bottle of wine in a single can?
I’ll have to look around to find the data to refute this. I’ll be willing to admit up front that it doesn’t exist.
However, I would bet that the education approach hasn’t been tried long enough and it would be difficult to demonstrate the effectiveness.
On the other hand, it took fucking decades of anti-smoking education to decrease the rate of smoking. It did, however, work.
I recall a conversation with a friend of mine who’s from Ireland. He was shocked by what we define as “binge drinking”: five or more drinks in a session. His reaction: “We call that TUESDAY!”
@SpotWeld: You’ve got the timeline backwards. These small companies popped up after the big companies backed away. According to an article from the WSJ last August:
There you go.
This is nothing more than putting a band-aid on that severed head. Kids will continue to binge drink (whatever they can get a hold of) until the culture changes. One way to do that is demystify alcohol.
I mean, spend 10 seconds at a nude beach and tits cease to lose their allure. Well, not really, but you get my point.
what you will see is an alcohol, no caffiene b12 whatever other energy component, marketed with the energy component on the side for your own mixing pleasure…
my question is, how many people are we actually talking about here? is it more than die trying to shake vending machines?
this is an outsized response to a minor problem methinks. when i was of an age when terrible alcohol is usually consumed, it was sisco and it was banned because the label was similar to wine coolers which were popular at the time(i blame john hughes and ronald reagan alternately and indiscriminately for every thing wrong about the 80s)
I’m loving the beginning of the school uniforms phase of the Obama administration.
We have seen the two year wrap on meaningful legislation and the beginning of the two year meaningless crap legislation/investigations. A tried and true preemptive strategy, working on
school uniformcaffeine/alcohol issues.
Would have been nice to get my pony during the next two years instead of the barn clean-up, but I guess the PR geniuses in the White House know exactly how to manage their image and the inevitable electoral consequences. Can’t be mean to the Republicans in the House since they have the will of the people behind them.
Preach it brother! We had to make a damn effort to get fucked up in the Camaro on the way to the Hot Tuna concert. But try to tell kids these days about it and they won’t believe you.
I can see it’s ridiculous analogy day on Balloon Juice.
You probably already do via your taxes. It’s a topic–at least binge drinking is–during orientation at most universities already.
The point is one of risk assessment and how far our society is willing to go to protect its citzenry from every hazard.
Let’s be clear what happened here. The FDA issued warning letters to four manufacturers. There is no ban per se though ignoring a warning letter can lead to your product being confiscated. Basically the FDA works like this:
1) They become concerned with some product under their jurisdiction.
2) They ask the manufacturer to give evidence as to the safety of their product (or to an efficacy claim).
3) For many manufacturers, they have zero safety (or efficacy) data so their first recourse is to say “Um, we think it is” (Obviously the time and expense of collecting actual data would be detrimental to the bottom line and and possibly might show, indeed, the product has some safety issues or doesn’t work: Crap! We paid a ton of money to get our product taken off the market!).
4) The manufacturer, instead of providing the info FDA requests, moves onto a different, currently unregulated product that likely lacks meaningful testing.
This sort of whack-a-mole thing has happened with treatment claims for “natural” medicines (an area the FDA is unfortunately and sometimes dangerously shut out of regarding safety). A similar thing was happening with designer drugs as well. From a consumer standpoint, I don’t have any problem with people consuming whatever they wish but I think they need to be informed of actual risks and it makes sense that the manufacturers need to cover the cost of any risk evaluation instead of the government (which then reviews the work done).
Ultimately the Four Loco people, could have generated an analysis of their sales versus actual related hospitalizations, etc., which very well might satisfy FDA and/or start negotiations with FDA as to an agreeable safety assessment. I suspect, however, that they are already feeling independent lawsuits nipping at their heels and will just jettison the business.
By the way, there is a bit of a disincentive for, say, Four Loco to be the first company of those that the sell such drinks to pay for safety testing. The other companies that sell very similar products can then cite Four Loco’s work and short-cut the process with the economic advantage.
Ed in NJ
Again, I have mixed feelings about banning these, but all the snarky comments about rum and coke and Irish coffee make some of you sound like idiots. As I posted in the last thread, the effects of one can on this 46 year old moderate drinker was not unlike that of drinking a 6-pack and doing a line of coke, which I have done in my long-ago past. But instead of it costing about $10 to do that in 1987, it cost me $2.49 in 2010. Who does everyone think these are marketed to?
I remember one of my crew’s favorite intoxicants, back in the day..
A fifth of Bacardi 151. A half gallon of Boone’s Farm Apple wine. A six-pack of Tall-boy Budweisers. Two cans of frozen MinuteMaid Lemonade.
We called it Mop Water.
Then there was the poor man’s substitute. Pure Grain Punch. A pint of Pure grain alcohol and a couple of gallons of grape Kool-Aid.
@Zifnab: Young adults are notoriously risky when it comes to alcohol simply because they don’t have the experience to understand their limits adequately and, for some, because they enjoy chasing the buzz.
Banning one type of drink or forcing them to modify it to drop the caffeine is probably not going to reduce alcohol poisoning incidents. There are plenty of other ways to get the same concoction, more than the ones I listed.
Technically, we’ve known about the link between cancer and smoking since the late 1600s (if I recall correctly), even if we didn’t know the exact science behind the process. I think it was the legislation for smoke-free offices, public spaces, and bars/restaurants that helped the most to change our smoking culture drastically.
Since there’s no “secondhand drinking” to disgust people, I can’t think of a similar action to use towards binge drinking, aside from an active attempt for parents to teach their kids how to drink right, the macrobreweries changing their entire marketing policy, colleges being harsher on frats, etc.
If someone starts selling a new alcoholic drink that has acetaminophen in it (marketed to prevent headaches) I hope that the FDA would step in and stop them. But I don’t expect the FDA to prevent all Americans from damaging their liver through a combination of alcohol and acetaminophen.
It just seems to me that when something is “banned,” it immediately becomes more attractive. And in this case, the genie is out of the bottle (so to speak) in that this age-old combo of readily available ingredients has been slickly marketed, even if that turns out to be temporary.
We have such strict laws about alcohol consumption in this country, and yet still so much binge drinking. I just came back from Germany, where I stayed in a hotel that had one of those snack vending machines where you could also buy wine, vodka (and red bull) along with your chocolate and chips. And no hidden camera or card reader to make sure the purchaser was a certain age. A handful of euro coins, and you could go to town. On the train, you could order beer, wine, and spirits right off the menu, or bring your own and drink it on the train.
You would think the place would just be awash in drunken kids everywhere, taking full advantage of the easy access to alcohol. Didn’t see it. Just anecdotal of course, but it does seem like when you try to regulate personal choices, you might actually encourage more of what you’re trying to stop, especially when it comes to people who are at an age where they want to test the limits.
I get what you’re saying, Zinfab, but your example is a bit apples and oranges. Alcohol in any form is literally poison, and when you start to advocate banning all of it, I’ll consider your position consistent. Tobacco, also, and too.
I guess I’m a big fan of culling the herd. Hell, I’m almost IOZian in my fatalistic lack of fear of a superbug, which will have many positive impacts on life at large, provided you’re in the immune club, or “not dead.”
Believe it or not, it was the life insurance industry in America that figured out the science of smoking death. Cold hard cash was involved.
I think the argument that a lot of us have is that it’s one thing to mix up a concoction like this yourself. It’s something totally different to allow a company to package it in 24-ounce cans that pack the same wallop as a full bottle of wine for easy consumption.
Labels. Labels. Labels. I know exactly what I’m getting with drinks before dinner, wine with dinner, a cuppa coffee after dinner, and then some real drinking.
This stuff is looks like beer but has as much alcohol as a full bottle of wine. Plus the caffeine, so you’re amped up and do two more.
If half the can surface said NEVER DRINK MORE THAN ONE OF THESE OR YOU MAY SUFFER CONVULSIONS AND DROWN IN YOUR VOMIT, then by all means, let’s get it back in every 7-11 in town.
But it doesn’t. And I’m a dad. So I will not support a government that doesn’t try to prevent this kind of disaster. And no, a lawsuit will not bring my daughter back to life. So I want some goddamn regulation.
You want to ban something that harms people? Ban health food stores which sell useless, potentially harmful crap like supplements, homeopathic “remedies,” alternative medicines and other snake oil.
I recently got a flyer from a Whole Foods Market trumpeting a homeopathic flu remedy. Now, by definition, this would contain either potentially harmful ingredients not listed on the box, or nothing at all. Imagine some dope giving this to his or her kids, who had a serious illness.
It’s funny how inconsistently the gummint protects us from ourselves, and even some who are so militant about the danger of sports drinks wallow in their own favorite forms of ignorance.
@Mnemosyne: Then throw some warning labels on it telling them that in nice big letters. Make people see nice and visibly that it’s a really bad idea to chug four of the suckers in a row. Of course that goes for any alcoholic beverage.
If adults still want to engage in risky behavior after that, well, there’s not a lot we can do to stop them.
@Ed in NJ:
Well…anecdotes are a *type* of data, I suppose. as a 36 year old moderate drinker, I have ahd many energy drink + alcohol combinations including Joose and Four Loko. While gross, they felt a lot like having a Vodka and redbull and did not send me worry that I would OD.
Just Some Fuckhead
I’m going to invent a drink that combines lead and tequila and call it Blue Dog 2010.
If your primary indicator of when to stop drinking is loss of consciousness, you’re well on your way to alcohol poisoning with or without the caffeine.
My solution to binge drinking: lower the drinking age back to 18. The 18-20 crowd would just as soon go to bars for entertainment, and they generally can’t drink as much since the cost is rather high (and the bars have legal reasons to keep people from drinking too much). Instead, they have private parties where they have access to kegs, liters, etc., at a fraction of the cost of drinking at the bars, which makes binge drinking that much easier. A drinking age of 21 is stupid.
@Mnemosyne: Yes, I understand that. But what I am saying is that the knowledge of this alcohol/caffeine combination is not only out there now, it has been marketed to make it even more attractive.
But now the pre-made drink is banned. So now there’s the added mystique of mixing up your own version of this drink that’s so bad, the government banned it. That’s what I mean by these sorts of things becoming more attractive by banning them. The ban might keep this drink out of the hands of some, while making the homemade version more attractive to others. Have we really gained anything by banning it? I don’t know. I hope so, but I’m not convinced.
But clearly, we can’t just let people drink themselves sick or to death with these products. But I still think, just based on my own observation, that binge-drinking of any sort might be less of a problem if we stopped making alcohol such a forbidden thing in this country, as counterintuitive as that seems. That perhaps our youth might be better equipped to drink in moderation if the very act of drinking weren’t made into such a rite of passage or opportunity to rebel.
@Ed in NJ: This!
@Just Some Fuckhead:
“This tastes like a backup quarterback’s asscrack!”
Yes, but the disctinction would be there is a direct causal link that mixing alcohol and acetaminophen causes irreperable liver damage (correct? I’m kind of guessing based on your post). However, the only link between caffeine and alcohol is that it masks how drunk you may be allowing you to drink more. The FDA decision seems to be based upon the fact that the drink producer cannot definitively prove that the drink is entirely safe, not that the drink is definitively harmful, at least no more so than any other alcohol consumption in large amounts. Isn’t that a significant difference?
That’s why I think Cam’s solution is a good interim one — make them sell it in smaller servings. If you have to drink the whole six-pack one by one, that at least slows you down.
Honestly, at least part of this is fueled by our assumption that if something is given to us as a single item, it must be a single serving.
There’s some really good discussion of how companies manipulate consumers into eating more in Mindless Eating. It’s kinda like Fast Food Nation, but with science.
@Surly Duff: So you know, Tylenol plus alcohol is bad for your liver.
You do point out a difference, but I don’t think it is significant since the relevant regulations put the burden of proof on the companies to demonstrate that adding caffeine to alcohol is safe.
I suspect another issue is that people can become dangerously dehydrated. Caffeine is a diuretic, and alcohol suppresses the antidiuretic hormone, so I could see people getting into trouble that way. (Sort of like with those party drugs where the problem isn’t the drug itself, it’s that people forget to eat and drink.)
The best quote I’ve ever seen from a science based podcast which deals with quack claims and junk science:
Anecdotes are interesting and they might even point to paths for research. But anecdotes are never substitutes for data. You cannot draw any reasonable conclusions from anecdotal “evidence” or testimonials.
Isn’t that what the government is supposed to do — make sure the products that companies sell are safe before they kill people? Trying to play catch-up afterwards is pretty useless.
Oh bullshit. This is retarded.
#1: Ever hear of a Vodka Red Bull? Chicks dig ’em. Same thing as Four Loko.
#2: It is quite possible to get puking drunk without consuming caffeine. Trust me. Furthermore, I can stay up till 4 AM drunk or sober.
#3: “Rum and Coca-Cola” was recorded in 1945.
That’s 65 years ago.
As in, if you were born right when our sinful pop culture first began encouraging the deadly cocktail of caffeine and alcohol, you are eligible for Social Security and Medicare…
…and probably shouting YOU DAMN KIDS AND YOUR FOUR LOKO, DON’T TREAD ON MY LAWN!
I did this combination once back in my teens, as well as some other upper/down combination I don’t even remember, and I can attest it’s an incredibly stupid thing to do.
This drink is equally stupid. Who’s the marketing sicko that thought this would be a great idea? Also, I would think the conflicting effects on the nervous system would do you in before the alcohol poisoning.
So when did they start selling 24 ounce prepackaged cans of rum and coke marketed to teenagers?
Don’t you gotta be 21 to buy them? Sheesh.
I’m 25, probably in the target audience, and I never even heard of this drink until this media shitstorm began. I have never seen an ad for Four Loko. I don’t even know what the can looks like. I’m guessing it is sold with the malt liquor rather than with the energy drinks, because I do drink plenty of Nos.
However, I will be an impertinent shit and say that I am now inspired to try this swill. It can’t be any worse than the “Sparks” stuff that’s been around for years and nobody cares about because it’s nasty.
I’m curious what people mean when they say that this-and-that is “marketed to” teens/kids. I heard the same thing about the incense/”legal weed”/K2 menace to society… however, most of these subversive products have no apparent marketing whatsoever.
Unless you count word-of-mouth, especially on web forums. But I don’t. And if somebody’s telling you to drink this stuff, it’s because they know you like to get fucked up, brah. Not because the caffeine will keep you from feeling it. Teens aren’t stupid enough to believe that, and they’re drinking because they WANT to feel drunk in the first place!
Isn’t all alcohol marketed to teenagers?
I’m pretty sure that amaretto commercial with the middle-aged people dancing is not marketing to teenagers.
There used to be a lot more marketing to teenagers — remember Spuds McKenzie? — but there’s not nearly as much since the beer companies got in trouble for it.
Fine, but we can all determine that drinking large quantities of alcohol, in any form or mixture, has negative results. Why target and ban this single form? The FDA fact sheet says the following:
Sorry, but isn’t massive consumption of non-caffeinated alcohol also associated with risky behavior? The only argument I have seen is that it is marketed to kids, and kids are likely to binge drink, which has negative effects on the kids. So target the marketing towards kids, as was done with cigarettes, but why can’t a responsible 30 year-old be able to purchase this trash?
Way to dodge the question. The manufacturers are packaging and selling a product that is the alcoholic equivalent of a entire bottle of wine in a single-serving can. Do you really see absolutely no problem with them doing that?
Let me know when you find those liquor stores selling prepackaged rum and coke drinks in 24 ounce cans.
Now that you mention it, though, 24-ounce prepackaged cans of rum and coke would sell like hotcakes if done properly. Shit, I would start selling them tomorrow, except that the ATF and Coca-Cola wouldn’t be too happy about it.
Just Some Fuckhead
@Mnemosyne: No, I don’t. And I’m not swayed by your concern trolling.
Because this form keeps people awake well past the point where they normally would have passed out and increases the probability that they will get alcohol poisoning.
Yes, you can argue that those damn kids would have drunk themselves poisoned anyway, but if the FDA tells you that their studies are showing that this is in fact what happens, are you at least willing to take that into consideration?
@Just Some Fuckhead:
Dude, I thought you were begging me to pie you. Why are you suddenly responding to my replies to other people? Or did we just discover your secret second identity?
Just Some Fuckhead
@Mnemosyne: Sorry, think of the children arguments always piss me off. It is illegal for minors to consume alcohol, regardless of how it’s made or marketed. Quit being a douchebag.
@scarshapedstar: I often see official Bacardi-Coke bundles in the liquor store.
I mean the stuff kids are more likely to be chugging :p
Irrelevant, it is still entirely legal to do so, and those malt beverages are not in danger of being banned.
Considering that Zima, Smirnoff Ice, Skyy Blue, etc. etc. etc. are nothing more than vodka and Sprite, I really don’t see why prepackaged rum and Coke would pose such a threat to teenagers. But, as Maus noted, they are in fact sold side-by-side wrapped together in plastic. I’m not sure whether the wrapper contains the secret instructions “1. mix 2. drink” but I suspect that an underaged kid who’s clever enough to get ahold of it can probably figure out how these two substances are used.
As to the math, a 24-ounce beer contains an ounce of alcohol. Four loko apparently contains 3. I guess drinking three tall boys (i.e. a six-pack) is pretty excessive, but it’s really no worse than a solo cup full of hunch punch.
My point isn’t that kids should consume any of these things. I did it, it never ended well. But seriously, if you think that this is some one-of-a-kind perfect storm of unhealthiness, you haven’t been to a party in a while.
People can mix up whatever they want in their frat houses using whatever they want. It’s when companies start packaging it and selling it in easy to drink doses that can kill you after two cans that I have a problem with it.
As I said above (or in one of the other threads, I’m not sure), my actual problem is the giant serving size, not the fact that they sell it. If it was sold in 8 oz servings like it is in Europe, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But they’re taking advantage of our American conviction that one can = one serving to get people to drink the equivalent of a six pack in one go. And then, hey, you’ve only had one drink, have another one!
Yes, as I am a middle-aged married lady, it’s been quite a while since I’ve been to a rager. ;-)
I’d go with that. But it’s still dumb. Just not “complete idiocy.”
Walk into a drug store in many 1st-world and most 2nd-world countries and you can buy most drugs short of possibly Oxy or some other opium based drugs without a prescription. You’re expected to bring to the table some intelligence and common sense. Seems to work there as most of those countries have higher life expectancies. In third-world countries the size of your wallet is your prescription for any drug.
Here you have to go through hoops to get a single box of Sudafed or Claritin. Now drinks combining alcohol and caffeine in one package. You know if we didn’t have all these safeguards to protect ourselves from idiocy there just might be fewer teabaggers. We’re fucking with Darwin.
Malt liquor also doesn’t include an additive that the FDA has studies showing will keep drinkers awake past the point where they would normally pass out.
It’s the combination that’s dangerous, not the liquor content in and of itself. If cigarette manufacturers put flavoring back in their cigarettes, but FDA studies showed that it increased your chances of getting lung cancer by 20 percent over a regular cigarette, should the FDA ban that or let it go?
I have to say that taking such an action would seem to be especially pointless. But your other points have some merit.
It has been my experience that companies that sell products like Four Loco have very little concern for their consumers and are not particularly keen to monitor exactly what age distribution their consumer base encompasses.
@Mnemosyne: And if they passed out, would they be any less of a risk of dying from alcohol poisoning?
BTW, where’s the evidence that this is coming from the White House? Any number of groups can pressure the FDA to review and consider action (or not do such things).
It depends on what their blood alcohol level was when they passed out. If the point of this drink is to make you be able to fight off the soporific effects of alcohol so you can drink longer, by definition people will be drinking more alcohol and putting themselves at more risk of poisoning.
This isn’t Buzz Beer. This is a six-pack of Buzz Beer squeezed into a little 24 ounce can. It’s interesting that when they introduced caffeinated beer in Canada, they actually made the bottles smaller than regular beer.
And here is the actual FDA press release (it notes the companies have been under notice since Nov 2009 which was before the event in WA):
Just to chime in with a few oddments:
The original formula for Jolt cola contained an amount of caffeine that exceeded the legal limit. The FDA made them change the formula, so they increased the sugar to get the same kind of effect as with the original formula. We probably could have added grain alcohol to our Jolt to get the same kind of, um, jolt that a Four Loko gets, but that was on us, it didn’t come packaged that way.
When the notion of making finger Jello with vodka first hit campuses, there was a huge spike in the number of alcohol poisoning cases because the freshmen didn’t know there was alcohol in the finger food. A lot of handwringing ensued, but nothing really could be done because the students were making them themselves. I bet the FDA and the ATFB would check the alcohol level and package sizes if somebody tried to sell Jello cups with a shot of vodka inside, though.
There’s a difference between somebody mixing their own and poisoning themselves or their party guests, and packaging a drink that is likely to put you in the emergency room if you drink more than one an hour. I agree with Cam that the sensible thing to do would be to put the stuff in smaller cans or bottles.
The “drug czar” weighed in on it. Because it’s the executive branch and an appointed position (IIRC), you can say “White House.” Plus, then you get to say that Obama is waging a Bill Clinton/Tipper Gore-esque morals campaign, which is fun in that masochistic way that seems to be all the rage lately in the blogosphere.
Oh, it tastes worse than Sparks. We had a bunch of Four Loko at our tailgate of a bunch of 30-somethings last Saturday.
The most notable thing about the beverage was the number of people walking by who stopped to try some to see what the big deal was.
Just Some Fuckhead – why do “think of the children” arguments piss you off?
Just Some Fuckhead
How many people died? I can’t imagine the carnage.
@Just Some Fuckhead:
If you’re in your 30s and you’re still binge drinking until you pass out, you have bigger problems than Four Loko can handle.
What if you make a drink called Gemini? Tallboy, with one can containing one-half the LD50 of alcohol for a 200 pound linebacker. Loaded with caffeine and SUGAR to get around the gag reflex and make it possible to choke the stuff down. Bright colors and Hello Kitty on it.
Advertising angle- “Bet you can’t drink two!”
No wait, Hello Kitty and whatever character is her supposed BFF. Slogan, ‘bring them together!’
Surely there’s a line somewhere? How about lethal dose of alcohol in ONE tallboy, with every trick of caffiene and sugar and flavor possible to persuade a drinker to not just choke on the stuff. What then? That cool? It’s just a matter of degree.
It’s not really reasonable to punish stupidity by death. Learning gets really spotty after you’re dead, it’s kind of too late. You could also say it’s about not punishing innocence by death… because you cannot simply expect everyone to be informed and making rational judgements, or it will break your heart. Some fools are pretty nice people…
Supposition at best. There is no scientific evidence of this. If people actually have poisoned themselves with this product it is because they drank too much too fast. I doubt the caffeine even has time to kick in and it wouldn’t mean much at those kinds of blood/alcohol levels.
Um, read the FDA fact sheet? (quoted above)
(Not saying that there’s conclusive evidence, but saying that there’s none is flatly not true by my reading).
The FDA claims that they have enough scientific evidence to decide that it’s a potentially dangerous combination — see the link to their report at comment #105.
So, yes, this is actually based on science and a study that the FDA has been conducting for over a year. It’s not someone pulling a demon out of a hat because it’s convenient.
This is my problem with the reaction. Again, the FDA website states that the decision was made based on four “published peer-reviewed studies that suggested that the consumption of beverages containing added caffeine and alcohol is associated with risky behaviors that may lead to hazardous and life-threatening situations”, and that, “caffeine appears to mask some of the sensory cues an individual might normally rely on to determine his/her level of intoxication.”
All of these statements are extremely qualified and I have not seen any data or evidence to support the assertion that caffeinated, alcoholic drinks have led to an increase in deaths or even medical emergencies. And the only reference I could find to the results of the peer reviewed studies indicated that the findings of the studies were mixed and inconclusive. FDA is using these inconclusive studies to undermine the manufacturers arguments that the drinks are generally accepted to be safe. No other data and no other support to determine the safety of these drinks.
So the entire argument is that there is a possibility that kids, who are prone to binge drink, are now able to binge drink with an alcoholic product that includes caffeine, which has not definitely been proven to be safe, nor has it been proven to be any less safe than binge drinking with, say, grain alcohol, but nonetheless must be banned. I just think it is unnecessary.
First, isn’t alcohol regulated by the ATF? If the FDA wanted to get involved, they would have to talk up the caffeine supplement as dangerous angle. Otherwise, they have nothing. Can the FDA regulate the alcohol level in malt liquor? I doubt it. The cynic in me believes that Bud and Miller didn’t want to waste millions on a war over these beverages that will disappear when the trend ends (see Zima) and got the FDA to step in through some congressmen they own.
Secondly, the FDA and CDC fact sheets say nothing to the effect there is any scientific proof that adding caffeine into the product has any effect at all. All they say is that binge drinkers are associated with these products and binge drinking has bad consequences some of the time. As I said before, I don’t see how these products are any worse than Mad Dog 20/20 or ilk like it. But the FDA can’t regulate Mad Dog 20/20 or Budweiser or Coppola Vineyards or Jack Daniels. But they can regulate Four Loco and will try and expand their turf and collect some fees from them.
I think these specific drinks may be one of those cases where a little is okay, but a lot is very bad. As I’ve said through the thread, if they sold them in 8 oz containers like they do in Europe, this would never come up. But the US manufacturers package it in a can that’s four times that size that encourages you to drink the whole thing. And then you have a second one because, hey, it’s just one drink, right?
And if you think that they didn’t deliberately plan to make it easy for drinkers to drink the whole thing, you really need to look at that Mindless Eating book I recommended at #78. Food and beverage companies have squadrons of scientists and marketers who help them figure out the best way to get people to consume more.
There are very few things that can override the effects of alcohol on the mind and nervous system. I don’t believe that caffine is one of them. “Major” stimulants(caffine not included) will have some effect but again they will not be able defeat the effects of alcohol. True mind altering narcotics(LSD25) have the composition and strenght to, lets say override the effects of alcohol by nature and the alcohol has little effect but you are still being poisoned. The majority of alcohol poisoning is not caused by a product sold in a can(malt liquor, beer), it comes from a bottle that is drank as if it were in a can(Rum, vodka, whiskey, and flavored liquors) all of which generally run from 50 proof to 80 proof.
Bruce (formerly Steve S.)
I don’t think you’re necessarily wrong about the issue, but it is funny how stirred up libertarians, both small and large L, are getting about this. Of all the hills to die on, as the saying goes, this?
Personally, I like booze with a side of the poor man’s cocaine. Turkish coffee, High Life, Turkey rocks snifter was the best round ever. (Alas, youth!)
By the way, has anyone noticed that the kids take lots of powerful drugs with their drink these days? Coke and smack you might have heard of, never mind the pills. That you don’t even want to know about.
4-Loko strikes me (Unfair? Probably.) as a scummy operation, but not quite Joe Francis GGW criminal-scummy. (Gulp) for the second time in two days…I’m with the libertarians.
If we’re worried about drug interaction, a better policy move would be to ban all the benzodiazaphines (“only a Valium”) .
A gross drink, but college kids knew that coffee or Vivarin would help keep you upright (and increasingly fucked up) at least 16 years ago.
Drinks don’t kill kids: kids kill kids with drinks, And yes, I hate that argument on guns, but that’s another story, Ever hear of Buckfast ‘tonic wine’? Old news, interesting though.
If it’s been mentioned upthread I’m sorry, but has the WH entered its school uniform phase?
ETA: @David Fud beat me to it of course since it’s BJ, and some smart and clever commenter always says what I mean way better and quicker than I can.
@Bruce (formerly Steve S.): It’s not “a hill to die on”, more like yet another sign of how, despite the stated intent of people who still believe in it (yes, “believe” — like fairies, Santa Claus, and the flying spaghetti monster), gov’t inevitably concerns itself more with what you choose to do to yourself than what others do to everybody. Banks can buttfuck the entire economy and get help from the government to continue to do so, but gawd forbid some morons drink too much…
I’ve never tried this stuff, but Paul Kafasis had this to say:
@JWW: Did a little bit of research on the studies out there. As it turns out, scientists HAVE been looking into this given the advent of Red Bull & vodka. Interestingly it seems that, perhaps, a higher dose energy drink could counteract the negative performance effects of a lower amount of alcohol. Nothing (legal) will counteract performance effects of larger amounts of alcohol. Given a 24oz Four Loco has the alcohol equivalent of nearly 3 drinks, there’s certainly no benefit of the other components in making it “safer.” As for the data that the other components may mask the negative somatic effects of the alcohol, the ones that warn one of intoxication, they are not all that convincing. But again, the regulations puts the onus on the manufacturer.
Clearly Phusion Projects has decided that the market share they’ve gained via Four Loco is worth reformulating.
Speaking of which, anybody remember when Everclear finally blinked? At that was just (nearly) pure alcohol. So this is not the first time the “ease of binge drinking” argument has won out.
I believe they sell different strengths in different states.
@maus: Hmm, in checking up, quite a lot of states still allow the 190-proof version. As I recall though, some states did ban and the response was to go down to 151-proof (though many talked of it as being 152-proof to still remain in the top spot of alcohol content). To not be able to find the 190 in CA never surprised me but having bought a bottle in Vegas in the mid-90’s and seeing that state ban it subsequently did surprise me. People think CA is a weird place but NV seems to have a certifiable case of multiple personality disorder.
Blame Congress for the FDA’s inability to regulate/ban the “dietary supplement” industry — they are by law forbidden to do so.