By Michelle Minton
Last year we watched as the FDA used its regulatory might to institute a de-facto ban on alcoholic energy drinks like Four Loko, Joose, and Sparks because it said the high alcohol, sugary drinks were being marketed toward underage drinkers. As I noted in my post, the biggest sin the makers of Four Loko and other banned “alcopops” committed was marketing their products as good-tasting and fun — a mortal sin these days in America.
Now, the New York City Department of Health is continuing the “war on fun” by asking for a ban on the sale of flavored, carbonated, pre-mixed malt beverages like Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice in convenience stores and delis. The reason, they say, is because the drinks “attract underage drinkers.” That may very well be true.
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The reason these drinks attract underage drinkers is because they taste good and, yes, they look fun. But so what? If that is the only standard one applies to whether or not we should ban products then the ultimate conclusion is that products that have “fun” and colorful advertising must be 100 percent healthy for everyone, like broccoli or apples. It also means that adults should be relegated to living in a world of nothing but bland or harsh tasting alcoholic beverages packaged in clear or brown bottles like we’re living in communist-era Russia.
There’s no end in sight as states like Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, and many more continue to use “the children” as an excuse for banning adult products that are in any way advertised as tasty or fun for adults.
It is time for adult consumers to stand up for their right to have fun, too. Just because children want to abuse adult products (nothing new there) doesn’t mean we ought to eliminate those products. If minors are able to get their hands on alcoholic beverages, the blame shouldn’t rest with the manufacturer for creating a product that is just too good for kids to resist. Blame ought to be put on parents for not educating their children on the dangers of alcohol, on the person who sold the drink to the minor, and, to some extent, on the child. Despite what adults seem to think children are not helpless automatons doing the bidding of advertisers and if they make a conscious decision to consume a product they know was meant for adults and is potentially hazardous they ought to be held responsible and accountable, at least in part.