A popular alcoholic beverage known as Four Loko has come under legal scrutiny for the second time in its relatively young life on the market. Four Loko producers Phusion Projects LLC were forced into a court settlement barring them from targeting youth in their marketing efforts. Having already been pressed into removing ingredients from its product in 2010, Four Loko will once again see increased regulations.
This settlement doesn’t mark the first time Phusion has seen its operations regulated. In 2010, it was forced to remove caffeine from Four Loko as it was deemed to be too dangerous by the Food and Drug Administration.
This regulation was enforced because it was determined that the mix of caffeine and alcohol presented itself as a potentially deadly combination for young people. FDA officials suggested that caffeine masks how intoxicated someone is, encouraging them to overdrink and putting them at risk of alcohol poisoning and other dangers.
With caffeine taken out of the equation two years ago, a new issue was addressed in court pertaining to Four Loko. This time around, legal officials were questioning the ethics behind Phusion’s marketing efforts.
During its relatively short time on the shelves, Four Loko has been branded as a party drink for young people. This reputation wasn’t a coincidence, as Four Loko has recently been accused of specifically targeting teens and college students in its marketing efforts.
The results of a recent court case saw Phusion make a settlement with 20 U.S. state attorneys general to curtail its targeting of teens. Along with new and more aggressive marketing regulations, Phusion was forced to pay $400,000 to regulators in the settlement.
Lawmakers Made the Right Choice
While the industry surrounding alcohol, bars and the like tends to be frowned upon, this case takes it to a new level. Marketing alcoholic beverages to responsible adults is one thing, but targeting young adults and teens is another.
Unlike other companies selling alcoholic beverages that cater to adults, Four Loko was targeting teens and college students. Aside from the blatant health risks that this beverage poses, its target market presented a legal issue as it consisted of people who were under the legal drinking age.
Stronger than a traditional beer and with ingredients that boost one’s energy, Four Loko presents itself as a drink producing anything but a casual and responsible good time. Drinks of this nature make it far easier for teens to abuse alcohol, and in turn, put them at much higher risks for having health issues and developing long-term alcohol problems. In order to keep teens out of hospitals and alcohol treatment programs, drinks of this nature should by no means be marketed to individuals under the age of 21.
Phusion’s continued missteps warrant the legal action that has been taken against it. While marketing regulations can sometimes be controversial or seem too strict, this case does not fit that description. Dangerous drinks of this nature and marketing alcoholic drinks to teens should be condemned to protect the well-being of our nation’s youth. In this instance, this means knocking Four Loko down another peg and further restricting its influence on youth in the U.S.