Four Loko is too much

Adam Zunder

New Jersey’s Ramapo College has banned a popular canned beverage in light of serious concerns about the safety of its students. The drink is called Four Loko, and contains alcohol and a host of energy drink ingredients. Not only does it come in large, 700 ml cans, but it’s cheap and fruit-flavoured as well. These factors make it popular with those on a tight budget and those who don’t like the harsh taste of more traditional drinks.

Ramapo College instituted the ban on Oct. 1, after more than 20 students were hospitalized in binge-drinking incidents. Other institutions have followed the college’s lead, and many more have informed their students about the dangers posed by alcoholic energy drinks, particularly Four Loko.

Ramapo College President Peter Mercer was quoted as saying that the beverage serves “no redeeming social purpose.” It’s hard to disagree with him—just as it’s hard to imagine someone drinking Four Loko for any reason other than quick intoxication.

It’s unlikely that the college will be able to effectively enforce such a ban. However, efforts to make the drink less available aren’t limited to the administrative level. In response to concerns about overconsumption, several states are moving to ban alcoholic energy drinks outright, and many retailers have voluntarily pulled the product from shelves.

Though it’s a good idea to make potentially dangerous beverages less available, the ban is targeting a symptom, not the problem itself. Young people—especially students—are fond of risky methods of drinking. Recipes for a do-it-yourself equivalent of Four Loko are available online, and less-motivated people can simply mix an alcohol-free energy drink with their beverage of choice.

It’s important to note that the issues stemming from Four Loko aren’t simply the consequence of an unsafe product getting into the wrong hands.

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