Banning 'Four Loko' isn't the answer

November 23, 2010

I found your editorial "Forbidding 'Four Loko'" (Nov. 22) to be illogical, one-sided and utterly missing the point. I am a 19-year-old college student and therefore surely biased toward the glorious nectar that is Four Loko, and I can assure you that you cannot tax yourself out of this. If anything, making alcohol cheaper will solve your problems.

I think the best alcohol education I ever received was last fall when I found myself vomiting behind a dumpster outside of a London bar. I woke up the next morning, and the next eight hours of recovery was all the convincing I needed that tequila was the devil. Talk to teenagers about learning to drink — it's rough. But feeling the negative consequences is the best way teens (and those in their 20s, 30s, 80s) can learn to take personal responsibility. Give me a pamphlet, and I will throw it out. Wake me up with the feeling of Hobbits throwing a Dionysian techno-marathon in my forehead, and I promise you I will get the message.

I attend college in upstate New York, where Four Loko is $2.99. Sure, that may be five beers and a little more then a Venti coffee's worth of caffeine in a drink, but consider this. I can buy a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka for $13.99. Low cost alcohol will always be an option because it is simply too profitable. The same liquor companies protesting Four Loko appear upstanding citizens while they use a public smear campaign against a competitor.

So who should we blame? New York state took action after a girl had consumed two Four Lokos and an "unknown" amount of tequila. Instead of acknowledging the blatant fact that she couldn't control herself, we harp on a company for trying to make alcohol taste bearable. If that's who we are really after, why not mandate that all bars serve only straight alcohol and ban chasers? Because tacitly we all know that that girl, and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people like her, are seeking to "black-out," to obtain an unimaginable level of drunkenness.

Sure, we could use this as an opportunity to add more tax money to the government for them to squander, or we could, I don't know, grow up. Let's learn that it's pointless to tell our children that they can pick up an assault rifle and kill people in the Middle East at 18, but they'll have to wait three years before they are mature enough to have a glass of wine at dinner.

But I'm sure your way will end underage drinking.

Chris Maddox

The writer is a graduate of Gilman School.

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