Ban Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages? Can I Still Mix My Own?

In yet another example of the nanny state getting out of hand, there is a recent movement afoot to ban the sale of caffeinated alcoholic beverages, as if this is a new issue.  This article reports that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff calls them “killer cocktails,” and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says they constitute a “clear public health and public safety threat.”  They have already been banned in Washington state, Oklahoma, and Michigan.

Public safety threat?  Could be.  But rum and Coke has been a popular bar drink since the introduction of Coca-Cola more than a century ago.  If this is a problem, it is not a new problem.  Caffeinated alcoholic beverages pre-date prohibition.

The issue appears to be that the alcohol and caffeine are sold together in one can, already pre-mixed.  Nothing I’ve seen yet suggests that bartenders be prohibited from mixing the two.  Could that be next?

The issue seems to have gained some visibility after a number of college students around the nation ended up hospitalized after drinking these beverages to excess.  But drinking to excess isn’t new on college campuses, and I haven’t seen anything to suggest that drinking an all-in-one caffeinated alcoholic beverage out of a can is riskier than drinking old-fashioned rum and Coke to excess.

Perhaps I could see a potential issue if someone drank excessively and ended up hospitalized with no health insurance.  But Obamacare has solved that one by requiring us all to buy health insurance.

I suppose the next step would be to outlaw mixing caffeinated alcoholic drinks yourself.  Bye-bye rum and Coke.

You have no freedom if you don’t have the freedom to make what other people think are bad choices.

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
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