The folks who started the national hysteria that led to the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko being banned by the FDA are at it again, and this time they have non-alcoholic energy drinks in their cross hairs:
Mary Claire O’Brien, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine who helped foment the moral panic that led the FDA to ban Four Loko and three other brands of caffeinated malt beverages last fall, says the fight against demonic drinks is far from over. “These premixed alcoholic energy drinks are only a fraction of the true public health risk,” she and co-author Amelia Arria, a researcher at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, warn in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association commentary. “Regular (nonalcoholic) energy drinks might pose just as great a threat to individual and public health and safety.”
Here’s O’Brien’s reasoning as to the dangers of energy drinks:
First, caffeine has been clearly associated with adverse health effects in susceptible individuals…. Second, the practice of mixing energy drinks with alcohol—which is more widespread than generally recognized—has been linked consistently to drinking high volumes of alcohol per drinking session and subsequent serious alcohol-related consequences such as sexual assault and driving while intoxicated….Third, regardless of whether energy drinks are mixed with alcohol, recent research suggests that, even after adjustment for potential confounders such as heavier drinking patterns, energy drink use might confer a risk for alcohol dependence and perhaps nonmedical prescription drug use.
I don’t doubt that excessive use of energy drinks is unhealthy. I drank one and, after a couple of hours of heart-pounding jitters, decided they weren’t for me. But we’ve known about the dangers of excessive caffeine use for some time now and if we’re going to ban energy drinks for being too caffeinated then we may as well put Starbucks in our targets too.
As for the link between energy drinks and high alcohol consumption (not to mention abuse of prescription drugs), maybe the sort of person who mixes energy drinks and alcohol is the sort of person who would drink excessively and/or abuse prescription drugs anyway.
Correlation, after all, does not necessarily mean causation.
But logic and facts don’t matter to the nanny statist who is much more concerned with banning things they simply don’t like. They want to use the law to impose their tastes and preferences upon the rest of us.
Being a free country means being free to do unhealthy and/or annoying things. It also means tolerating things other people do that we disapprove of.