November 14, 2009
The New York Times reports:
Top federal food regulators threatened on Friday to ban caffeinated alcoholic drinks unless their makers quickly proved that the beverages were safe.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who co-wrote the letter to the F.D.A., said he was pleased. “Our battle against alcoholic energy drinks has stopped some products,” Mr. Blumenthal said, “but others are insidiously exploiting the void.”
So I guess when you are 21 you are legally old enough to make the decision to drink alcohol. But no one is old enough to decide to mix Alcohol with Caffeine? I guess bars shouldn’t be able to sell Red Bull or Coca-Cola any more. So the logic goes.
November 10, 2009
The illustration below shows UK drug poisoning deaths versus popular press coverage:
David McCandless, who created the graph, writes:
There has never been a single documented case of fatal cannabis overdose. Also, the government’s own figures don’t tally. While drug figures from the Office Of National Statistics register 19 cannabis related deaths, the mortality stats from the same office log only 1 death.
Clearly the media disproportionally focuses on some drugs rather than others, thus distorting public opinion. The graphic below illustrates the death-rate per user of each drug:
So it appears that Marijuana is less toxic than aspirin.
October 30, 2009
Robert Kaestner (University of Illinois) and Benjamin Yarnoff (University of Illinois at Chicago) have a new working paper on the long term effects of minimum legal drinking age laws on adult alcohol use and driving fatalities:
We examine whether adult alcohol consumption and traffic fatalities are associated with the legal drinking environment when a person was between the ages of 18 and 20. We find that moving from an environment in which a person was never allowed to drink legally to one in which a person could always drink legally was associated with a 20 to 30 percent increase in alcohol consumption and a ten percent increase in fatal accidents for adult males. There were no statistically significant or practically important associations between the legal drinking environment when young and adult female alcohol consumption and driving fatalities.
October 26, 2009
From the Economist:
The average Russian already drinks 30 litres of hard liquor a year, six times the amount in the EU, while imbibing a modest 77 litres of beer, a little less than a typical European. Pushing up beer prices is far more likely to encourage drinkers to swallow even more vodka or dodgy but cheap home-made spirits than to convince them to give up booze altogether. Then again, it will give Russia’s huge—and largely locally owned—vodka industry reason to raise a glass.
So I pose the question: Is this an intended or unintended consequence? If they seek to curb alcohol consumption, Russia could tax all alcohol, not strictly beer. If they seek to curb substitutes to vodka, which is largely Russian-owned, then they have applied the correct policy.