While for decades the alcohol industry has been dreaming up new ways to hook youth on its products, in recent years, this strategy was taken to new heights. With the increasing popularity of highly caffeinated soft drinks, the alcohol industry decided to combine two drugs in one product. Thus, premixed alcoholic beverages with caffeine, dubbed alcoholic energy drinks (AEDs) were born. It didn’t take long for advocates, health practitioners, and policymakers to realize with these new brands, underage drinking became even more risky than ever before.
Thanks to the concerted effort of numerous organizations, government agencies, and health experts, these dangerous products were forced off the market by early 2011. However, the larger problem of alcopops (sweet, soda-like alcohol) remains, with a new twist. Supersized alcopops—coming in single serving cans of up to 24 ounces, containing alcohol as high as 12% by volume—are industry’s latest attempt to hook youth. Even without the caffeine, these “reformulated” products still represent a significant public health threat. This case study describes the path to victory to get alcoholic energy drinks off the market and explains what needs to happen next.
1. Get familiar with your local attorney general's office.
2. Find a health professional, preferably an MD, to champion your cause.
2. Make friends with the media.
4. Work with a wide coalition of groups.
5. Be persistent.
6. Prepare to do battle again.
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