Controversy and confusion surrounded the remarks made by New York state Senator Shirley L. Huntley in a recent press release regarding flavored alcohol consumption by minors.
On April 12 Huntley, ranking member of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, participated in a hearing to explore flavored alcohol malt beverages that are being targeted towards minors.
Calling out popular drinks such as Four Loko and Joose, Huntley expressed her disapproval for flavored beverages with high percentages of alcohol. Her claim is that these drinks, and drinks like these, are dangerous for the youths of the community.
“The presence of flavored malt beverages that contain high amounts of alcohol are marketed towards minors and when consumed have led to hospitalizations, overdoses and arrests,” said Senator Huntley in a press release. “It is imperative that drinks such as Four Loko and Joose be banned from stores as our youth may end up being chronic users and victims of alcohol abuse,” she said. “I believe removing this product from store shelves will save lives and prevent minors from being further enticed to consume alcoholic beverages.”
Pushion Products, which distributes Four Loko, has an official statement on its Web site: “We go above and beyond federal and state labeling requirements with multiple labels on all Four products that prominently show that the beverage contains alcohol.”
While Huntley has tried to persuade the community that minors are safer without the presence of flavored alcohol, students were not convinced.
Many students believe that removing only flavored alcohol beverages from stores, but not other beverages that also contain high levels of alcohol, defeats the purpose.
Alexander Abbot, a junior finance major, questioned why only one type of drink was being singled out. “If minors are able to buy Four Loko from the corner store, what would stop them from buying Corona or wine?” he asked,
Ioana Donose, a senior education major, said that she believed that those who distribute the alcohol to minors were the most at fault.
“If the only problem the Senator hopes to fix is the effect these beverages have on minor consumers, and not all consumers, I think the problem is easily fixed by liquor store owners to just do their job,” she said. “If no one is checking ID then that’s the reason minors are drinking alcohol, not just Four Loko, but any type of alcohol.”
Students were also confused as to how Huntley made the assumption that flavored alcohol beverages are geared towards minors. Krista Vita, a junior, said she had never seen any advertisements that were geared towards minors, or any advertisements for Four Loko or Joose at all.
“I hadn’t even ever heard of Joose until this press release.”