Last week, Big Red Liquors and Bloomington Liquors announced that they would not be selling alcoholic energy drinks, in an attempt to be “socially responsible.” Big Red admitted that they “have not heard of direct problems involving people consuming the drinks in Bloomington” though the beverages have been banned in other states.
That’s fine. What is not fine is that the two retailers are lobbying the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission in order to get the organization to “ban the sale of the drinks statewide.”
Let’s be brutally honest here. Big Red and Bloomington Liquors have made a decision they feel is right for them, but they know that people can buy the products at other stores. This will cut into their profits and market share, so they want to make sure that no one else is allowed to carry them either. Asking state government to ban the drinks is not due to some sense of social responsibility, but because they want government to help them avoid economic repercussions from their business plans. This is little more than corporate welfare.
How effective will this be? Are people who currently consume the drinks (especially people in their early 20’s, who are the primary market for these drinks) are going to be unable to manually mix vodka and their energy drink of choice? Should we also ban bars from manually mixing the two, so that consumers will have to do it themselves? After all, stupid people have been making methamphetamine from common household products and cold medicine for years.
It should not be government’s role to ban alcoholic energy drinks. Yes, some people are going to use them irresponsibly and get sick as a result. But it should not be government’s role to start banning products because some people are stupid and irresponsible. Government does not need to protect us from our own stupidity.
If there was a message of the 2010 elections, it was that government is taking too much control of our lives. Now is not the time for government to take control of what we are permitted to drink, especially with Republicans (supposedly the party of limited government) in solid control of both the legislative and executive branches of state government.