The onslaught of national attention to Alcohol Energy Drinks (AEDs), dubbed “blackout in a can” by many, continues to pick up steam.
After a series of national media reports from the New York Times, ABC, CBS and other major outlets about several recent alcohol poisoning cases linked to AEDs, the products are back in the news full-force.
In 2008, a group of state attorneys general, aided by The Center for Science in the Public Interest and other groups, successfully pressured Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors to drop premixed, sweetened alcohol energy drinks from their product lines.
Since then, AEDs with even higher alcohol concentrations, such as Joose and Four Loko, have gained popularity with college-age and younger youth as a cheap and easy way to get drunk. The sugary, fruit-flavored beverages mask the flavor of alcohol, and the caffeine fuels a dangerous perception of being able to “party all night” — that is, drink harder and longer.
Fast-forward to the last few days, with AEDs getting renewed attention from many corners of the media as colleges, state alcohol control boards, and advocacy groups spring into action.
Here are a few current highlights:
- Marin Institute has posted an excellent overview of the current furor and its history on its blog, and has set up an online action campaign to email the FDA urging the agency to take action (FDA officials are currently reviewing the status of AEDs).
- Brand Channel published a fascinating expos? on Phusion Projects, alleging that the maker of Four Loko went to great lengths to “cover its tracks” on some very slick social marketing efforts. Fast Company joined the fray by confronting a company founder with recently-removed language from Phusion’s website that seems to contradict his denials that Four Loko is marketed as an energy drink.
- A number of colleges and universities across the country are urging students to avoid AEDs and some are banning them altogether.
- The Michigan Liquor Control Commission banned the sale of AEDs statewide, and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board formally asked the state’s 17,000 alcohol distributors to stop selling the drinks. Alcohol control boards and legislators in other states are currently considering action, and Chicago aldermen are proposing a citywide ban.
- The New York Times has continued its hard-hitting coverage, including a withering piece by Frank Bruni that calls out Four Loko for its candy-coated appeal.
Stay tuned, everyone. This story is just getting off the ground.