October 18, 2010
Although the ban applies to all brands of alcoholic energy drinks, one particular brand called Four Loko was Mercer's biggest concern. The drink comes in a 23.5 oz colorful can, in popular fruity flavors that appeal to younger drinkers. It costs about $2.50 each and has an alcohol content of 12 percent, which Inside Higher Ed noted is the approximate equivalent of four beers. "It's intoxication at a fairly high level, one which potentially compromises the health of the student," said Mercer to WABC-TV.
Indeed, ConsumerAffairs.com stated that a 2008 study by the University of Florida found that college-aged adults who drank energy drinks mixed with alcohol were three times more likely to leave a bar highly intoxicated and were four times more likely to think about driving after drinking than patrons who consumed alcohol only.
"There's a very common misconception that if you drink caffeine with an alcoholic beverage the stimulant effect of the caffeine counteracts the depressant effect of the alcohol and that is not true," explained Bruce Goldberger, co-author of that study and professor and director of toxicology in the UF College of Medicine.
According to Inside Higher Ed, Ramapo's ban on alcoholic energy drinks is part of a multi-pronged approach to reduce excessive alcohol consumption on campus. Mercer has already increased after-hours security in residence halls, tightened visitor policies and conducted student focus groups.
Some feel the ban is necessary. "A college ban will make people take a second look and maybe they'll be more aware of what they're drinking," said Kathleen E. Miller, research scientist at the Research Institute on Addictions at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Brianna Canetti told WABC-TV, "I honestly think it might work with the amount of transports we've had to the hospital with kids on Four Loko. It might help. I understand that."
Others, however, think the ban could backfire. "It isn't good. It's gonna kill all the fun here," said Omar Alkhalili, a junior at Ramapo College. "I feel like people will hide it more. Maybe they won't be as inclined to tell people their friends are sick, which could be a bad thing," he added.
Mercer told Inside Higher Ed that his efforts to curb consumption of alcoholic energy drinks have worked so far, but he admitted that "it's unrealistic to assume that it'll be totally eliminated". Nonetheless, he said he will not stop trying. Mercer plans to meet with other college and university presidents to address the issue. "The risk for their students is just as high as the risk for mine. I'll tell them what I've done and hope that they may want to follow suit," he said.
Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff
"New Jersey College Bans Alcoholic Energy Drinks From Campus," consumeraffairs.com, October 16, 2010, Sara Huffman
"Ramapo College bans alcohol energy drinks," abclocal.go.com, October 15, 2010
"The Next Student Health Problem?" insidehighered.com, October 18, 2010, Allie Grasgreen