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 a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University, and author of the Independent Institute book Liberty in Peril: Democracy and Power in American History.
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