Feb 17, 2012

Chuck's Second War on Caffeine

NOTE: This is something I began writing around the end of December, early January. For one reason or another I forgot about it before posting it, thus some of the information might be a bit dated. I may write another article giving an update on the situation in the near future, but for now I will post this and if anyone has any new information feel free to comment below.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York aided in past efforts to put protection before personal choice. Back in 2010 Schumer fought to ban caffeinated alcoholic beverages, with the most notable being Four Lokos. Moving into 2011 the Democrat would work towards a swift elimination of sales of “bath salts.” It appears that Senator Schumer believes adults cannot make their own informed choices when it comes to recreational activities.

Now he returns to banning caffeine in another form: inhaled caffeine. AeroShot Pure Energy is the soon-to-be product of the new company Breathable Foods, Inc. Their website claims AeroShot “delivers an airborne shot of fast-acting energy. A quick boost of caffeine mixed with B vitamins that’s ready anytime, anyplace.” This takes the work out of drinking a cup of coffee as each container contains 100 mg of caffeine which nearly mirrors the amount in coffee.

Senator Schumer holds two primary concerns for the new product. The first is that it has not been properly tested in accordance with FDA guidelines. For instance Schumer worries that the powder could be inhaled into the lungs despite the website claiming the particles are too large to be absorbed by the lungs. His other concern is that it will be sold over the counter meaning a person of any age can purchase it, including children. AeroShot’s website, however, states it is meant for the average caffeine drinker and, more specifically, that children and people who are sensitive to caffeine should avoid their product.

Stemming from his previous concerns, Schumer sees AeroShot becoming the next big party drug for teens and young adults. As of now Schumer only wants more tests run on AeroShot, but he may later call for an all out ban on the product to keep people from mixing alcohol and caffeine. Current research does support negative effects from combining stimulants (caffeine) and depressants (alcohol). While many are familiar with these findings, they continue to drink the caffeinated-alcoholic elixir despite the consequences. Partiers will add shots of vodka to their Red Bull or drink a caffeinated Four Loko (well, at one point they did). There is a strong probability that people will continue to add alcohol to their caffeinated beverages or vice versa or perhaps drink a warm coffee alongside an ice-cold beer even if AeroShot is banned.

How would AeroShot fair in a libertarian market? AeroShot would be able to compete with all other caffeinated products. Any claims that Breathable Foods made about their product would be subjected to review by independent researchers. During this period of independent research individuals would have the freedom to try AeroShot and test the product themselves in a more practical way. If they feel it is too dangerous or did not undergo the proper testing they can simply refuse to buy it. Total liability would fall on Breathable Foods for any harm caused to their customers based on misinformation they presented. For instance, they claim that their product does not enter the lungs. If this proves to be false, then Breathable Foods would have broken their contract with the consumer and would be responsible for covering any of the consumer’s bills that may result because of that.

What needs to be done is to allow the consumer to have control over what he or she puts into his or her body and to keep the government from determining what is and what is not good for the consumer.

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