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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Edwin Says:

    Great comments, Ajax the Great!

  5. 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.

  6. Anthony Rhodes Says:

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

  7. Ajax the Great Says:

    Thanks, Anthony. I will continue to do so.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. Ajax the Great Says:

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

  11. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    One down, millions more to go.

  12. Anthony Rhodes Says:

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

  13. Ajax the Great Says:

    Such as?

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.