Steve Chapman

Scaremongers think these latter beverages promote alcohol abuse among young people, presumably by letting drunks stay conscious long enough to get even drunker. But if putting caffeine and alcohol in one convenient container generates wild excess, you would expect binge drinking among college students to be soaring. In fact, it hasn't budged since 1993.

Critics claim the mixture vastly increases the dangers of youthful boozing, citing a Wake Forest University study published last year. Researchers found that students who downed drinks with both caffeine and alcohol were more likely than other student drinkers to suffer injuries, to ride with drunken drivers and to take sexual advantage of others.

Those findings are a flimsy excuse to stamp out pre-mixed cocktails. The study was not limited to those drinks, after all. Students paired caffeine and alcohol before the invention of Liquid Charge and would continue to do so if it ceased to exist.

Nor did the study demonstrate that this type of drinking actually causes the bad effects. Just as plausible is that students prone to do reckless things are more likely than their peers to knock back Jager bombs. Or, as the study itself acknowledged, "sensation-seeking individuals may be drawn to energy drinks, heavy alcohol consumption and risky behaviors."

Take away this type of product and maybe those consumers will switch to chocolate milk. But probably they'll just find another way to get the buzz they want.

Instead of declaring war on Vicious Vodka, maybe disapproving government officials ought to try kicking back with an ice-cold glass of the stuff. With its ingredients, it might help them do a couple of useful things: 1) relax, and 2) wake up.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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