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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Four Loko Update

The Four Loko story has metastasized not just in comments here, but across the country. Stores have started pulling it off shelves:
Citing safety concerns, Haggen Food & Pharmacy announced Tuesday that it had pulled two lines of alcoholic energy drinks from its 32 stores in Washington and Oregon, including four in the Portland area.... Competitor Fred Meyer ditched the cans – 12 percent alcohol by volume, or two times a typical beer – earlier this year as controversies began to arise. Known as "alcopops," the drinks have been criticized for marketing and design campaigns aimed at younger customers.
On a separate track, various wings of the state and federal government are considering action as well:
At the urging of 18 attorneys general, the Food and Drug Administration, which has never approved adding caffeine to alcohol, is reviewing whether the drinks are safe. And in July, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the drinks, with colorful packaging and flavors like watermelon, blue raspberry and lemon-lime, are “explicitly designed to attract under-age drinkers.”

Lawmakers in several states, including New York, have sought to ban the drinks, though no legislation has passed yet.
Although I support modifying these beverages and/or making them less accessible, this is a development worth watching. When issues like this flare up and become massive media phenomena, the moment for sober, careful lawmaking may have passed. There are a lot of ways to handle the issue that wouldn't affect craft brewing, but there are laws that could, too. Ill-conceived blanket bans usually have unintended consequences--and they could easily tread on the toes of good beer.

So, while these products are dangerous and unnecessary, here's hoping the effort to address them is rational and thoughtful.

(In case you missed our lively discussion yesterday, go have a look.)


  1. I don't really have an opinion on banning the alcopops, but I wanted to point out something that I find interesting; less than 2 years ago you were opposed to the smoking ban, and yet now you're advocating for regulation of these things.

    Why is it that the libertarian side of you comes out in the smoking debate? Or phrased another way, what is it about the caffeinated alcopops that brings out the liberal, "think of the clidren!!!" type attitude?

  2. Chris, I was for the ban--and the debates were similar at the time.

    But I'm a typical Oregon liberal--far more titled toward the libertarian side than European or New England liberals. The smoking ban was a close call for me. (Though I have to say I love it now.)

  3. Well, I'm stopping by 7-11 tonight before this madness spreads east.

  4. I spent most of life thinking I was a liberal kind of guy till I moved to Oregon. Now I'm neutral. I really don't want to be associated with either major party in this state... too extreme. Does that make me a Libertarian or does it mean I just know how to use my head for something other than a hat rack?

  5. Doh! Sorry to disparage you Jeff. I was positive you were against the smoking ban back in the day.

    Carry on...

  6. Latest from the New York Times on Four Loko: