Opinion Brief

Time to ban 'Blackout in a can' drink Four Loko?

The boozy energy beverage is too dangerous to keep on the shelves, say critics. Is government regulation the answer?

A canned beverage containing a potent mix of alcohol and caffeine has been blamed for a spate of teen hospitalizations, leading to calls for it to be banned. Doctors say it is particularly dangerous because the caffeine masks the alcohol's effect. The FDA is now looking into how the drink is made and marketed. Should a federal ban be an option? (Watch an AP report about Four Loko's dangerous effects)

A ban won't do any good: Colleges are starting to implement their own bans, says Lynn O'Shaughnessy at CBS Moneywatch. But it's well known that if you ban something, kids will go out of their way to get their hands on it. "Colleges and universities already ban underage drinking and we all know how well that's working." We're better off leaving kids to learn from their own mistakes."Getting drunk on $5"

Action is needed on state and federal levels: Some students here in Washington say it "comes down to personal responsibility," says an editorial in the Yakima Herald-Republic. But that comes more easily to some than others, and when the actions of "a small population" endanger the broader public, that's when governmental action is appropriate."Alcoholic energy drinks — a risk not worth taking, but worth talking about"

A ban would be government overreach: Hands off, FDA, says Robert VerBruggen at the National Review. You have "no business telling adults what they can put in their own bodies on their own property." Private colleges can do what they want, but just because some young adults are "incapable of moderating their intake" doesn't mean Four Loko should be taken away from everyone. Besides, "it's no more alcoholic than wine.""Hands off my tasty trashy beverages"

Are there really people dumb enough to drink this concoction? "My issue is that anyone would drink the stuff at all," says Jason Sheehan at Seattle Weekly. Why would anyone choose this "chemically synthesized taurine and malt liquor" drink over a six pack of beer? I understand young folks just want to get "maximally drunk for minimal cash," but is a little bit of class out of the question?"Blackout in a can: Four Loko by the numbers"

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