Teens not real issue in drink debate - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Teens not real issue in drink debate

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Posted: Friday, August 24, 2007 3:18 am | Updated: 5:38 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

So Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has joined a campaign against alcoholic energy drinks such as Sparks from Miller Brewing and Tilt from Anheuser-Busch.

Goddard claims young adults and teenagers are being fooled into believing the caffeine and other additives in these beverages mean people can consume more without getting drunk and drive safely home, the Tribune’s Paul Giblin reported Tuesday. Goddard and his peers in 29 other states apparently want to stop this latest “trend” before teenagers discover a taste for the devil’s drink. Of course, we assume that means these attorneys general also soon will be launching verbal broadsides against mixing vodka and Red Bull, a staple on the nightclub circuit for years, as well as older standbys such as a rum and Coke or an Irish coffee.

The breathless hype that Goddard and his colleagues are giving this issue makes it seem like no one thought to mix stimulants and alcohol until recently. The reality is humans have spent centuries trying different cocktails of heart-racing chemicals and eye-drooping booze. The alcohol always wins out in the end, and most people figure that out pretty quickly. Those who want to keep fooling themselves aren’t going to be influenced by the misguided meddling of some elected officials posing as their parents.

States do have a legitimate interest in preventing alcohol manufacturers from intentionally marketing to those under the legal drinking age. But despite the implication of Goddard’s comments, a joint letter sent by the 30 attorneys general to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau makes no such claim. Instead, the letter asks the federal government to investigate whether the makers of pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks are offering unfounded health claims and whether a higher alcohol content means the drinks shouldn’t be classified as malt beverages.

Such concerns are less likely to grab front-page headlines than the suggestion that beer companies are looking for a new way to corrupt America’s innocent youth. In truth, these businesses are exploring different avenues to satisfy an adult thirst, and perhaps grab a bit of Red Bull’s market share while they are at it.

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