Statement: [CR] Applauds Government Warnings on Caffeinated Alcoholic Drinks

Choose Responsibility applauds the warnings issued Nov. 17 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission to four makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages. Caffeinated alcoholic beverages pose an emerging threat to public health, and are associated with binge drinking and alcohol-related injuries. Choose Responsibility commends the FDA and the FTC for their swift action on this issue of public concern.

“The choice of responsibility works both ways,” said Barrett Seaman, President of Choose Responsibility. “We hope and expect young people to handle alcohol responsibly, but we also expect the alcohol beverage industry to police itself—both in its advertising and promotional materials and in its choice of products. Mixing caffeine and alcohol is a poor choice.”

The FDA’s action follows a November 2009 request to manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages to provide data on the safety of their products. After conducting an independent analysis of peer-reviewed literature, the FDA found that caffeinated alcoholic beverages do not meet the generally accepted standard of safety. Instead, caffeine is an “unsafe food additive” associated with “risky behaviors that may lead to hazardous and life-threatening situations” when mixed with alcohol.

The FTC letters warned that the makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages may be violating industry standards of truth in their advertising campaigns. Both organizations have instructed the makers of these beverages to outline the steps they have taken to comply within 15 days.

Choose Responsibility applauds these warnings, and looks forward to more opportunities to collaborate with legislators and public health officials to promote a culture of responsible and safe alcohol consumption.

Choose Responsibility is a nonprofit organization founded to stimulate informed and dispassionate public discussion about the presence of alcohol in American culture and to consider policies that will effectively empower young adults age 18 to 20 to make mature decisions about the place of alcohol in their own lives. To learn more, visit

67 Responses to “Statement: [CR] Applauds Government Warnings on Caffeinated Alcoholic Drinks”

  1. Edwin Says:

    I support the federal government’s decision against highly caffeinated and highly alcoholic beverages because they are more dangerous than lagers and similar alcoholic drinks. The FTC is doing a good thing by making sure companies who make caffeinated alcoholic beverages obey laws. I recommend that state governments, if not the federal government, more directly regulate these dangerous than average alcoholic drinks. The drinking age must be lowered to 18 along with its important components of responsibility.

  2. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    “Mixing caffeine and alcohol is a poor choice.”

    Can’t argue with that, and this is a good example of a proper response: to educate the public.

    A poor choice would be simply outlawing the products. Outlawing these particular products will do nothing to stop people from combining Redbull and Vodka, as they have been doing for years, with disregard for the potential health risks.

  3. Edwin Says:

    However, it’s still important to be courageous when it comes to consumer protection since products like Four Loko are more powerful than the average alcoholic drink such as the original Bud Weiser.

  4. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    But less so than some wines, and definitely less than whiskey. Should we protect the consumer from wine and whiskey as well by:

    1) forcing them off the free market, or
    2) should we educate them about the dangers of over indulgence when it some to alcohol and let them make educated decisions for themselves?

  5. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Marshall, are you familiar with the other groups in the anti-21 movement?

  6. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    Not terribly. Care to fill me in?

  7. John Searles Says:


    Here is what we know from mounds of scientific research.

    1. Educational programs for limiting or reducing consumption are not effective.
    2. Regulation that limits access and enforcement of laws work to reduce rates of underage consumption and binge drinking among young adults.

    FYI, there are NO studies that demonstrate the reverse. That is, if you lower the MLDA this will somehow result in less drinking and less binge drinking in the affected age group. There is a very large and growing literature showing conclusively that MLDA-21 is an effective way to reduce consumption and associated alcohol-related consequences in this age group.

  8. Marshall Guthrie Says:


    This would seem to fly in the face of much of what is proposed on this site in terms of alcohol education playing a role in a solution for the problem of binge drinking the in the US population. In noting their past ineffectiveness, do you propose that any future attempt at education is wasted time/energy/money, or would you agree that it’s possible that past educational programs have failed because their execution was flawed?

  9. Edwin Says:

    John Searles, I’m skeptical of the research you approve of because the comprehensive education program and restrictions, including a drinking age of 18, would decrease binge drinking by young women and young men. The research that you support probably doesn’t take into account the privilege of having an alcohol license because with this, there’s an incentive to not abuse alcohol. The drinking age of 21 is 100% ageist because at 20 years old, everyone is two decades and the age of majority is at age 18.

  10. John Searles Says:

    From the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Alcohol and Public Policy:

    “School-based alcohol education programmes have been found to increase knowledge and change attitudes toward alcohol and other substances, but actual substance use remains unaffected. Approaches that address values clarification, self-esteem, general social skills and ‘alternative’ approaches that provide activities inconsistent with alcohol use (e.g. sports) are equally ineffective. Many contemporary school-based programmes include both resistance skills training and normative education, which attempts to correct adolescents’ tendency to overestimate the number of their peers who drink. Scientific evaluations of these programmes have produced mixed results with generally modest effects that are short-lived unless accompanied by ongoing booster sessions.

    Some programmes include both individual-level education and family or community-level interventions. Evaluations suggest that even these comprehensive programmes may not be sufficient to delay the initiation of drinking, or to sustain a small reduction in drinking beyond the operation of the programme.

    Public service announcements (PSAs) are messages prepared by non-governmental organisations, health agencies and media organisations that deal with responsible drinking, the hazards of drinking-driving and related topics. Despite their good intentions, PSAs are an ineffective antidote to the high-quality pro-drinking messages that appear much more frequently as paid advertisements in the mass media.

    Counter-advertising involves disseminating information about a product, its effects and the industry that promotes it in order to decrease its appeal and use. Tactics include health warning labels on product packaging, such as those that explain that alcohol may cause birth defects when consumed during pregnancy. Although a significant proportion of the population reports seeing these warning labels, research indicates that exposure produces no change in drinking behaviour per se. In sum, the impact of education and persuasion programmes tends to be small, at best. When positive effects are found, they do not persist.”

  11. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    As previously asked: In noting their past ineffectiveness, do you propose that any future attempt at education is wasted time/energy/money, or would you agree that it’s possible that past educational programs have failed because their execution was flawed?

    Also, I don’t know where Edwin’s going with his “two-decades” argument, but I’ll ask this: If MLDA-21 has been more effective then education, why not raise the age to 30, 40, or ban alcohol altogether?

  12. John Searles Says:

    1. Whether execution was flaed is an open question; however, there is a lot of research in this area that clearly shows very little effect of individual level education programs. FYI, the same is true for driver’s ed in reducing accidents and unsafe drving – no effect.

    2. From a developmental perspective the age should likely be 25, but there is no political will for this. Again, ALL scientific research shows a positive effect of MLDA-21.

    Here are links to a couple of summary articles: (p.18) (p.12)

  13. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Sorry for not replying right away. Work,etc. there is this website

    The guy who runs the website seems to have an idea on how to get around the highway funding penalty. He suggests raising the beer tax, among other things.

    We already have a state whose legislature is friendly to our cause. Vermont. We could totally achieve a decisive victory.

  14. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    I’ll check it out. Thanks.

  15. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    John, you still there?

  16. John Searles Says:


    i don’t think we see this issue the same way.

  17. Marshall Guthrie Says:


    I guess it would be a pretty boring debate if we all saw the issue the same way.

    I posted these a couple times now. I was wondering if you’d like to respond to the questions I posed to you:

    As previously asked: In noting their past ineffectiveness, do you propose that any future attempt at education is wasted time/energy/money, or would you agree that it’s possible that past educational programs have failed because their execution was flawed?

    Also, I don’t know where Edwin’s going with his “two-decades” argument, but I’ll ask this: If MLDA-21 has been more effective then education, why not raise the age to 30, 40, or ban alcohol altogether?

  18. Anthony Rhodes Says:


  19. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    I don’t think he’s going to answer your question, Marshall. By the way, what did you think of that one website I showed you.

  20. John Searles Says:

    I think I answered your questions. Education alone does not work. Thee is overwhelming evidence on this. As I already alluced to, the poster child for this is driver’s education which has not had any meaningful impact on adolescent crash rates as demonstrated in several studies. I’m not sure precisely what you mean by “the execution was flawed.”

    As I also mentioned, from a developmental perspective, the MLDA should be closer to 25. I am not advocating this, I am simply saying that research suggests the brain and most importantly the executive functioing aspect of the brain are not fully developed until age 25.

  21. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    So we should get rid of driver’s education? We should tell our children not to step behind the wheel until the age of 16, with no driving experience, no instructions, then do as they will? Surely, you can’t be serious. Are you?

  22. Edwin Says:

    John Searles, I disagree with you because ageism is oppression. Education along with an alcohol license works. This alcohol license, like a driver’s license, can be suspended in case a young women or young man, of whose age is 18-19, has binge drinks. Graduated licensing has had and is having a significantly positive effect in decreasing deaths of those 24 and under. I think the information you got about driver licensing is nonsense. I acknowledge your brain findings but oppression can be justified by those findings.

  23. John Searles Says:


    Re: Drivers Ed

    “Again, IIHS has done much of the research on driver education, a fair task since, in years past, much of the funding for driver education in high schools came from insurers. However, when IIHS studied the effects of driver education carefully in the 1970s, a main finding was that teen crashes tended to be higher when high school driver education was available. In the late 1970s, this correlation was confirmed when Connecticut stopped state funding for high school driver education, and many schools in the state dropped the course. The result was fewer teen crashes, based on our study that compared those schools with schools that continued to fund driver education locally.

    In response to criticism that these driver education courses were too simplistic, the US DOT spent millions to develop a model course. It was called the Safe Performance Curriculum and was submitted to a proper study in DeKalb County, Georgia. When compared to other high school students who received either no driver education or a more basic information course, the result was the same: SPC increased the number of teens getting licensed and the number involved in crashes. This is an unintended consequence of driver education — it can encourage earlier licensure that is not offset by any improvement in knowledge or skill.

    Driver education can help drivers learn to operate vehicles and to understand why traffic laws are what they are. Driver education, however, is not itself an effective public health strategy.”

    Adrian Lund, President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, October 7, 2007

    As I said, this is the research – I do not make this stuff up!

    And don’t call me Surely (Adiee Leslie Nielson)

  24. Marshall Guthrie Says:


    “SPC increased the number of teens getting licensed and the number involved in crashes. This is an unintended consequence of driver education — it can encourage earlier licensure that is not offset by any improvement in knowledge or skill.”

    I can’t argue with that logic: more teens on the road = more accidents by teens. It seems that the best thing to do would be to ban driving for a certain segment of the population, say, those under the age of 21. Then the accidents in that age range would be Zero! Success!! Unless those under the age of 21 decide to drive illegally…

    So, recognizing that those under the age of 21 will still drive even if it’s illegal, and recognizing that car accidents still happen to those over the age of 21, it seems like the only answer is to ban cars. If we ban cars, no one in America will drive and there will be no car accidents.

    You’re right, education is pointless when we can just prohibit cars. I’m calling my legislators today to recommend this solution…I expect to see it implemented before the year is out considering the number of lives we would save on the road.

    Now, if we could only come up with a solution for this drinking problem…

  25. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    And while I have you, when did we decide that all education is equal. If education doesn’t work in the case of driving cars, how about flying planes? Practicing law? Using computers? Is all education equal, and thus, equally worthless when compared to drivers education? Maybe it’s only effective in younger people, those under the age of 16 or 21? Since the brain isn’t fully developed until age 25, why should I go to school before then?

    It seems like a better comparison to the effects of lowering the drinking age would be to look at other countries where the drinking age is sub-21 (if they have a drinking age at all).

    From this very site:

    Recent research published by the World Health Organization found that in many European countries where the drinking age is 18 or younger (and often not enforced), 15 and 16 year-old teens have more drinking occasions per month, but fewer occasions of dangerous intoxication than their American counterparts. In many southern European countries roughly one in ten of all drinking occasions results in intoxication, while in the United States almost half of all drinking occasions result in intoxication. In these countries the introduction of alcohol typically comes from parents. In the United States, where the drinking age is 21, parents are not legally afforded that opportunity, and as a result initiation to alcohol consumption is not responsibly controlled.

  26. Marshall Guthrie Says:


    “Education along with an alcohol license works.”
    -can you cite this please, or is this just a presumption on your part?

    “I acknowledge your brain findings but oppression can be justified by those findings.”
    -by “brain findings” do you mean the assertion that the brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25

    The ageism argument: I agree that it’s ridiculous that the age of majority, 18, is being ignored in the case of alcohol use, but if we’re looking to rid our society of this prejudice, wouldn’t an equally valid proposition be to raise the age of majority to 21, along with the rights to vote, enter legal contract, and buy guns? Is that last one still a right?

  27. Marshall Guthrie Says:


    I did check it out, and it looks like a good blog full of pertinent info.

  28. John Searles Says:


    Very nice parroting of the CR propaganda. We call it “The European Myth.” FYI, there is more recent research that shows these statements are demonstrably false. European youth are awash in alcohol which has caused seveal recent policy changes in an attempt to address the issue, including raising the drinking age in France. A new study from The Netherlands shows that early drinking under the supervision of parents leads to later problematic drinking. The authors’ conclusion:

    “In summary, our fi ndings yield substantial evidence that adolescents’ alcohol use leads to more drinking over time and problem drinking, regardless of the context, with whom adolescents are drinking, or their age. Based on this, we
    think that alcohol prevention programs should recommend that parents prohibit their children from drinking at home and outside the home and make parents more aware of their possible preventive role in the initiation phase of drinking.”

    Let’s talk science, not opinion and silly games (e.g., banning cars). This is a serious public health issue that needs to be addressed in a serious manner (e.g., banning pre-mixed alcoholand caffeine drinks).

    I’ll say it again – there is a huge amount of scientific evidence supporting MLDA-21. There is NO evidence even hinting that lowering the MLDA would result in less consumption, less binge drinking, or less alcohol-related problems. This is really quite basic behavioral economics: increased access = increased consumption.

    Here is a good book for you to read:

    Alcohol: No Ordinary Commodity (2nd Ed.) by the WHO Alcohol and Public Policy Group

    You can read the summary here:

  29. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    I’m sorry you find my argument silly, but I didn’t start drawing the correlation between driver’s ed and alcohol ed, you did. I just finished it.

    But you haven’t answered the real question: What’s so magical about 21? Why is that number so special?

    If increased access is the problem, then why not prohibit alcohol all together? Surely problems with alcohol exists with those over the age of 21.

    So how about it, what is your solution? Should we ban alcohol? If not, than why not and what age would you suggest we legalize drinking at?

    As for alcohol and caffeine, which or the two do you advocate banning? If neither, how do you propose we stop people from combining them on their own?

  30. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    I would much rather use Canada as an example rather than France. It is either 18 or 19 depending on the province. Canada and the U.S. are culturally similar. Car culture and all. This is one way to avoid the European myth, folks. If anyone else would like to join in, don’t be bashful.

  31. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    And I got the Airplane! reference too. Ha!

  32. Edwin Says:

    To Marshall Guthrie’s question regarding the age of 21. I think that using the age of 21 as a minimum age requirement is illogical because at 20 years old, one is decades old because 10 years is one decade. The age of majority is 18 and I always support this belief. Canada is more successful with the drinking age. Using a license, as I’ve said, that can be suspended because of alcohol abuse along with moderate an alcohol education course to get that license is a solution. I consider the WHO to be of lacking.

  33. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    Edwin, am I currently taking part in a Turing Test?

  34. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    Sorry Edwin, just giving you a hard time. Thanks for caring enough to continue commenting.

  35. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but what’s a Turing test?

  36. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Never mind. Looked it up on wikipedia.

  37. John Searles Says:


    I don’t think you’ve been paying attention. Here is my solution:

    Leave the MLDA at 21

    Now, I’ve provided links to summaries of scientific articles that support this position. You have only provided nonscientific anecdotes or cute straw men that are irrelevant. FYI, there are other laws and rules that restrict behavior of those under 21. Here are a couple of examples:

    1. No one under the age of 21 can purchase a handgun.
    2. No one under the age of 21 can obtain an Interstate Commercial Driver’s License.

    As for the alcoholic energy drinks, check out the FDA’s website for additional information – I’m not going to do all the work for you. Can you still buy alcohol and caffeinated bevarages? Yes. Can you still mix them together? Yes. Can you buy them premixed in a 23.5 oz can? No. Again, this is a serious public health issue that was appropriately regulated based on sound science.

    To Anthony:

    The data on Canada vs US for adolescents does not support your case. Furthermore, alcohol is much more expensive in Canada which also has the effect of limiting access. The relationship between price and consumption is robust: the higher the price, the less consumption and subsequently fewer alcohol-related problems. Here is a link to the abstract of a very recent article that summarizes this literature

    To Edwin:

    The WHO Alcohol and Public Policy Group is composed of internationally known scientists who have spent years studying these issues. So who would you listen to – Edwin or the WHO Alcohol and Public Policy Group? (Hint: Edwin is the wrong answer).

  38. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    And you’ve, at the same time lamenting the “serious public health issue that needs to be addressed in a serious manner (e.g., banning pre-mixed alcoholand caffeine drinks)”, have offered only to maintain the status quo. You’ve proposed no change for how we, as a society, conduct our business around alcohol, other than making people work hard to combine alcohol and caffeine.

    To propose leaving everything as-is is to refuse to acknowledge a problem that needs addressing. I think this is where the breakdown exists. I see a problem with people, young and old, drinking themselves to death, and you don’t.

    But, don’t let me be cute and put words in your mouth. Do you believe there is a problem?

    If not, then I guess we agree to disagree on this fundamental issue and instead of arguing why alcohol education doesn’t work, you should argue why the current binge drinking, drunk driving, and associate death rates are acceptable.

    If you do, then let’s hear your proposed solution. You seem to be very good at shooting down the suggestions of others without offering any of your own.

  39. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    Oh, and take a trip to any college campus and you’ll see first-hand what “limited access” looks like for those under the age of 21 in the real world. I’ll wager $100 that you can pull anyone off the street between the ages of 16 and 20, and given 24 hours, they can purchase a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka, a case of Red Bull, and a spoon to stir it with.

    Yes, that is a serious wager. You give me the criteria and put your money up, and I’ll put my money up and conduct the test (with the support of the local authorities, of course, to keep it legal).

    My email is when you’re ready.

  40. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Actually, some states, including South Carolina, do allow 18 year olds to carry concealed weapons.

  41. John Searles Says:

    Oh, there is most certainly a problem. However, the answer is certainly not to increase access to alcohol. As I’m sure you’ve read in some of my links, there is a direct relationship between alcohol-related problems and the number of alcohol outlets; there is a direct relationship between price and alcohol-related consequences; and there is a direct relationship between lowered MLDA and alcohol-related consequences. So what is the answer? More enforcement, stronger policy efforts, removal of readily available harmful products (e.g., Four Loko).

    Incidentally, anecdotal evidence is not science. All you have to do is show me some science that justifies lowering the drinking age AND that lowering the drinking age will result in fewer alcohol-related harms. Good luck!

  42. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Males (1986)
    Asch and Levy (1987)
    Asch and Levy (1990)
    Dee and Evans (2001)
    Miron and Tetelbaum (2007)

  43. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    As for Canada………

  44. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    For the record, it is YOUR side that has the anecdotal evidence, John.

  45. Edwin Says:

    Regarding John Searle’s justification of oppression against young people on the basis of age. Those aged 18-20 not being allowed to get an interstate commercial trucker’s license is oppression so by you saying that this is aligned to 21, you are supporting ageism. Ageism is not the answer to solving problems so you are taking the approach which isn’t working. Don’t disregard Canada. Canada has drinking ages of 18-19 and they work. Linking ageism to one another is supporting oppression and that’s not solution.

  46. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    What’s the matter, John? Have we frightened you away? If you do not respond within 24 hours we will officially declare this debate over. With us being the victors, of course.

  47. John Searles Says:


    Take a breath! Some of us have other committments than posting on this board.

    Science doesn’t work like that. In fact science is a self-correcting, iterative, and cumulative process. For the best recent examples look at global warming, immunizations for children, and evolution. All three have accumulated tons of evidence on one side even in light of some popular opinion that thinks otherwise. In the end, science will determine the “winner” not you.

    Again, I don’t think you’re paying attention or reading the material in the links I’ve left here or the criteria I specified.

    “All you have to do is show me some science that justifies lowering the drinking age AND that lowering the drinking age will result in fewer alcohol-related harms.”

    Males and the two Asch and Levy studies have already been accounted for in the empirical review conducted by Wagenaar & Toomey (2002) You can find that study here:

    Also you may be interested in another review by the CDC:

    Shults, R. A., Elder, R. W., Sleet, A., Alao,
    M. O., Zaza, S., Thompson, R. S., Sosin,
    D., Carande-Kulis, V., Nichols, J.L., Task
    Force on Community Preventive Services

    Miron and Tetelbaum was not published in a peer-reviewed journal. Furthermore, Miron & Tetelbaum talk about the overall “Traffic Fatality Rate” (TFR) not the “Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatality Rate.” This is an important distinction since thee has actually been an increase among underage individuals in the nonalcohol traffic fatality rate. Finally on this article, Miron has disclosed that he is is a consultant for Shook Hardy & Bacon and clients Phillip Morris, Lorillard, and Miller Brewing Company. This has an impact on his objectivity.

    The Dee and Evans article is one of a series of articles by economists on this topic. They propose the “shift model” which has not been supported by subsequent research The overwhelming consensus among economists is that MLDA-21 and Zero Tolerance laws have been very effective. For example see Carpenter, Kloska, O’Malley, & Johnston (2007), but there are many others.

    Here are a few recent articles that you may be interested in reading that all support MLDA-21:

    Fell, J. C., Fisher, D. A., Voas, R. B., Blackman,
    K., & Tippetts, A. S. (2009). The
    impact of underage drinking laws on
    alcohol-related fatal crashes of young
    drivers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental
    Research, 33, 1208–1219.
    Grucza, R. A., Norberg, K. E., & Beirut, L.
    J. (2009). Binge drinking among youths
    and young adults in the United States:
    1979–2006. Journal of the American
    Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
    48, 692–702.
    Hingson, R.W., Edwards, E. M., Heeren, T.,
    & Rosenbloom, D. (2009). Age of drinking
    onset and injuries, motor vehicle
    crashes, and physical fights after drinking
    and when not drinking. Alcoholism:
    Clinical and Experimental Research,
    33, 1–8.
    Naimi, T. S., Nelson, D. E., & Brewer, R.
    D. (2009). Driving after binge drinking.
    American Journal of Preventive Medicine,
    37, 314–320.
    Nelson, T. F., Xuan, Z., Lee, H., Weitzman,
    E. R. (2009). Persistence of heavy
    drinking and ensuing consequences
    at heavy drinking colleges. Journal
    of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 70,
    Norberg, K. E., Beirut, L. J., & Grucza, R.
    A. (2009). Long-term effects of minimum
    legal drinking age laws on pastyear
    alcohol and drug use disorders.
    Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental

    Let me know if you find anything recent in the scientific literature that makes a case for lowering the drinking age.

    “Doubt is our product,” a cigarette executive once observed, “since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.“

    David Michaels – Doubt is Their Product

  48. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Oh good, you’re still in the fight.

  49. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Ok then. What studies do you want to see? The ones that test to see if Legal Age 21 saved any lives on the roads? What about anything that tests to see if moderate alcoholic usage has any negative effect on the brain before the age of 21? Or what about the drunk driving statistics in other parts of the world? How do they compare to us?

  50. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Maybe I’ve been overzealous in comment #45. I was a bit angry at the time of its posting.

    However, I must disagree with you. Science does not determine the winner. Politics determine the winner.

  51. Ajax the Great Says:

    To all the pro-21 folks on this thread, I suggest you come take a look at my blog, It debunks essentially all arguments in favor of the 21 drinking age. Read it and weep.

    The 21 drinking age does NOT save lives, at least not in the long run, and may cause MORE deaths on balance; alcohol is NOT inherently evil; the brain is almost fully developed by 18, with any further development being merely the last finishing touches; there is ZERO hard scientific evidence that drinking at 18 is significantly more dangerous than drinking at 21, 25 or even 30, ceteris paribus; Canada kept their drinking age at 18-19 and the sky did not fall–in fact they have less DUI deaths and no greater alcoholism rate than the USA; Canada’s standardized test scores, though lower than ours in 4th grade, exceed ours by 12th grade; America has seen more progress reducing tobacco use than reducing dangerous drinking–for all ages–despite not raising the smoking age to 21.

  52. Ajax the Great Says:

    John, just so you know, Miron and Tetelbaum WAS published in a peer-reviewed journal, Economic Inquiry, in 2009. The fact that it took two years to be published after the working paper was written is a prime example of publication bias and the “file-drawer effect”. And where exactly is your evidence that Miron even made a dime from the Miller Brewing Company or Big Tobacco? Please cite that “fact”, and also please read the studies before you blackball them. I can also say that many of the pro-21 studies you cite are funded by the neo-temperance Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as well.

    Oh yeah– take a look at Males (2008) for another recent study debunking the pro-21 claims.

  53. Ajax the Great Says:

    Furthermore, the definition of “alcohol-related” includes any accident in which even the slightest amount of alcohol was found, which does not necessarily mean it was CAUSED by alcohol. Nor are all crashes tested for alcohol, not even today. Garbage in, garbage out. And since there was no reliable alcohol-relatedness data before 1982, any study that includes data before that year must look at the total fatality rate (Miron and Tetelbaum, Dee and Evans, Males) and/or single-vehicle nighttime fatalities (Asch and Levy).

    Face it, pro-21 crowd. You lost the debate.

  54. Edwin Says:

    Great comments, Ajax the Great!

  55. Ajax the Great Says:

    Thanks, Edwin. Nothing like a little “Twenty-One Debunked” to debunk the pro-21 claims. It is also quite telling that one of the pro-21 posters had to (unsuccessfully) impugn the integrity of Harvard economics professor Jeffrey Miron in an attempt to save face. I checked–while he was a consultant for that law firm, there is no evidence that ever received any money from the booze industry, hence no real conflict of interest.

  56. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Ajax, you have THE BEST anti-21 website I have ever seen. Keep giving ’em hell!

  57. Ajax the Great Says:

    Thanks, Anthony. I will continue to do so.

  58. John Searles Says:

    Ajax The Great (great name by the way)

    I appreciate your pointing me to the Economic Inquiry publication. In terms of Miron’s associations with a firm that does business with the alcohol industry, I am afraid this is quite relevant. Conflict of interest standards also include the “appearance of conflict of interest” which. Miron’s association clearly falls under this category. By the way, it is simply silly to compare RWJF to Miller Brewing.

    But on to more substantive things. The alcohol-related traffic fatality rate is most important here because as I have previously stated the nonalcohol related fatality rate has NOT dropped since MLDA-21. Therefore, it is statistically inappropriate to not disaggregate these two rates. Furthermore normalizing with VMT is inappropriate because VMT figures are not available for the 18 to 20 group and there is every reason to believe that teens drive less than the average adult and at different times and days of the week making the standard VMT based on gas tax data not very useful for drinking age studies.

    I hope you have a chance to read all the articles I listed in 47 above because they are all recent and they all converge on the same conclusion – MLDA-21 is an important public health policy. Here is another one that was just published on line (in print January, 2011):

    Rasul et al. (2011). Heavy episodic drinking on college campuses: Does change the legal drinking age make a difference. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 72, 15-23.

    Happy Holidays!

  59. Ajax the Great Says:


    Thanks for responding, and for the compliment. A few points I should make:

    1) Miron’s “appearance” of conflict of interest is not quite the same, and there is no evidence that the study in question was funded by Miller or any other alcohol company. It is also interesting how the alcohol industry is silent on the issue of the drinking age–the same industry that whines so loudly when alcohol taxes are raised or advertising restrictions are made or proposed. (The latter two things I have no problem with by the way–in fact I think the alcohol taxes should be raised significantly.)

    2) Miron’s study starts with the same methodology as Dee (1999), a study that DID find apparent lifesaving effects. When Miron increases the number of years and number of states, and adds VMT and BAC limits as regressors, it still remains statistically significant, though a bit weaker. The real kicker is when he separates the coerced states from the non-coerced ones, as well as when he separates the short-term impact of raising the age from the long-term impact, the former being confined to the non-coerced states, and the latter being negligible for all states.

    3) There were several years where the non-alcohol fatality rate did in fact drop as well. And like I said before, there are problems with the way “alcohol related” crashes are calculated, which could potentially bias results in either direction. An unknown number of “alcohol related” crashes would still have occurred in its absence, since those who drive drunk are more likely to take risks even when sober. Also, disaggregating the two may mask trends in drugged driving, which may very well increase as booze becomes less available.

    4) For VMT, Miron used that as a regressor amony many, not as a rate base, in the main part of the study. Nor did that alone seem to have very much effect on the results anyway. Imprecise as it may be, it does not seem to vitiate the study substantively.

    5) I have read many of the studies you mentioned, including the latest one, and already debunked several of them on my blog, Twenty-One Debunked. If you ever get the chance, I suggest you take a look at it. I also discuss several alternative, non-ageist policies (alcohol taxes, tougher DUI laws, education, etc.) that do seem to work well and that I support.

    6) Food for thought: if MLDA-21 is such an “important public health policy”, why do Canada, Europe, Australia, and 95% of the world not have it yet?

    Happy Holidays to you too. Be safe.

  60. Ajax the Great Says:

    Well, Anthony, that settles it. Nobody has responded since my last post over two weeks ago. Ergo, victory is ours.

  61. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    One down, millions more to go.

  62. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Ajax, there are so many questions I have always wanted to ask you.

  63. Ajax the Great Says:

    Such as?

  64. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Do you conduct your own research for your blog or do you have people who work for you?

    Sorry for not responding right away. Busy weekend.

  65. Ajax the Great Says:

    Currently, I do it all myself in my spare time, and have been since its founding in 2009. That’s the main reason why the blog is updated erratically and typically only monthly on average, rather than more regularly. There is only so much a busy grad student like myself can do. Fortunately, the best research relating to the drinking age has already been done by economists and social scientists for decades–I simply find it and put it together. Much of this research, like the Miron study, has been ignored or buried by the MSM, but it can still be found scattered about online. At the same time, junk science routinely gets published and gets the most media attention–and it is up to folks like me to debunk it ASAP.

    I also have been running another blog since 2009, the True Spirit of America Party. A refreshing alternative to the abject failure that is the two-party system, it is a “progressive libertarian” party that can be described as somewhere between Green and Libertarian. The “True Spirit of America” is defined as liberty and justice for all. In a nutshell, a “culture of consent” is advanced as an alternative to the current “culture of coercion.” Please read it for more info.

  66. John Searles Says:


    It may not be apporpriate to declare victory because of a non-response. I have been pretty busy lately with actual work, an impending office move, and HS Nordic skiing events that. I am currently stuck in Providence, RI because of a big storm that both air and train travel.

    Anyway, it is also difficult to do these back and forth exchanges because I think we somtimes talk over and past each other. Not just you, but me as well.

    I don’t think we will ever agree on the fundamental nature of MLDA-21 or the interpetation of the scientific research that supports it, but we can agree on the need for tougher DUI laws and higher taxes as a way to partially address the issue. So let’s start there.

  67. Ajax the Great Says:

    At least we can agree on some things, John. Drunk drivers (90% of which are over 21) are terrorists of the road, and should be dealt with much more severely than they are now, regardless of age. Ditto for other forms of reckless driving as well. And alcohol taxes are generally at a historic low when adjusting for inflation. It would be a good idea to raise them, as well as make the beer tax proportional to alcohol content. In addition, I also agree that excessively high outlet density (“liquorlining”) contributes to alcohol-related problems.