NPR: Colleges Restrict High-Alcohol Energy Drinks

Colleges across the country are restricting access to Four Loko and other high-alcohol energy drinks, according to Scott Hensley of NPR. After a recent concert at the University of Rhode Island, 30 people were hospitalized for alcohol-related problems. Hensley reported that “no alcohol was available at the arena, but students apparently got hammered ahead of time.” URI banned the drink as a result.

The news comes on the heels of our recent blog item outlining similar problems at Central Washington University. At Kansas State University, the Collegian reported a spike in sales of caffeinated alcoholic drinks.

For an in-depth take on the issue, check out Peter Schworm’s story in the Boston Globe on November 2. Check out both reports and let us know what you think in the comments.

7 Responses to “NPR: Colleges Restrict High-Alcohol Energy Drinks”

  1. Edwin Says:

    For significantly improving responsibility by young women and young men regarding alcohol, the drinking age would have to 18, with girls and boys being allowed to drink alcohol with parental supervision at 17 followed at 18 to 19 with an alcohol license which can be suspended for alcohol irresponsibility. Universities and colleges are not making a bad decision by restricting high-alcohol energy drinks. The federal government should regulate these drinks correctly in a non-ageist fashion.

  2. Marshall Guthrie Says:


    Can you please expand on what types of “non-agiest” federal regulation you’d like to see?

    I’m interested to read your response.


  3. Marshall Guthrie Says:


    My apologies for misspelling “ageist” when quoting you.


  4. Edwin Says:

    When I mean non-ageist, I mean the government shouldn’t be looking too heavily into the design of the bottles. Although Four Loko bottles are brightly colored, Four Loko can rightfully do this because it is their product. The federal government, more likely the state governments, should certainly impose limits onto how much caffeine is allowed to be added in respect to the alcohol volume in each bottle. This will reduce the effects of caffeine so that people who drink will honestly will the effects of alcohol.

  5. Marshall Guthrie Says:


    Thank you for responding. I’ve always been a little foggy on the “brightly-colored” argument. I would love for someone to quote a study that shows that 20, 19, or even 14-year-olds are more likely to buy a product with brightly colored packaging.

    Surely, some figures must exist. Anyone in the marketing business who wants to cite a source?

    As for the caffeine, why should government regulate the ratio of caffeine to alcohol in a single product? I can go to the store and buy as much red bull and coffee as I want. As a 31-year-old, I can go to the store and buy as much alcohol as I want. Why shouldn’t I be able to go buy my alcohol and caffeine together in a single product?

    Isn’t the problem not the ratio of alcohol to caffeine, but rather, that lack of knowledge on the part of the consumer that the combination of both is potentially dangerous? By banning Four Loco and similar products, we are doing nothing to combat the perception that buying Red Bull and Vodka separately, and then consuming them together is dangerous?

    Shouldn’t we fight for propagation of education, not limitation and regulation of one products market penetration?

    Can I get an Amen??!!

  6. Ajax the Great Says:

    With all due respect, Edwin, I don’t think that caffeinated alcohol drinks should be banned outright. However, I do think they should have put a cap on the amount of caffeine and alcohol in each can, and correctly labeled the amount of caffeine. And perhaps tax them at a higher rate as well. Of course, there also needs to be better education about such products, as well as alcohol in general. Nothing ageist about that.

    As for the drinking age, I think it should be 18, with 18-20 year old legal adults having the same rights that those over 21 currently enjoy. For those under 18, parents should be allowed to give them alcohol (within reason) from a much earlier age. I personally am not a fan of the drinking license idea, as that would increase the size of government and likely be a nightmare to enforce. It would also put alcohol on an even greater pedestal than it is now–is that not part of the current problem? A better alternative would be to give all legal adults over 18 the benefit of the doubt, but “blacklist” anyone (of any age) from buying alcohol when convicted of drunk driving, drunk violence, repeated disorderly conduct, or furnishing alcohol to minors. A blacklisted person would have the words on their driver’s license or ID card “Do not serve alcohol under penalty of law”, and they would be forbidden from even entering a bar. Of course, we could simply toughen the laws on DUI and actually mean what we say when sentencing violent criminals and drunk drivers of all ages. Again, nothing ageist about that.

    The only special restrictions I could support for 18-20 year old legal adults, besides existing zero-tolerance DUI laws, would be keeping the age limit 21 for kegs, cases, and large bottles of liquor, or their equivalents, thus limiting the quantities that can be purchased off-premise. That should quell any fears of increased high school keggers.

  7. Ajax the Great Says:

    As for education, why not just require better (and honest) alcohol education for all high school students? It has to begin MUCH earlier than 18. Failing that, colleges can also require it as part of freshman orientation, as many already do.