Should alcohol manufacturers be held responsible for alcoholism?
In the latest international weekly round-up of the Wall Street Journal, I found cause for celebration: Millercoors, LLC will no longer be selling alcoholic energy drinks in the U.S. The President of the company, Tom Long, was quoted saying,
“We are always willing to listen to societal partners and consider changes to our business to reinforce our commitment to alcohol responsibility.”
This came after more than 12 different state attorney generals filed suit against the company.
It seems VERY unlikely to me that MillerCoors is acting out of any great beneficence or concern for greater public health … but from fear of larger and growing repercussions. Mainly legal. The potential health risks of alcohol mixed with caffeine are enormous, not the least being a misperception of just how drunk you actually are when you drink something like ‘Sparks’. And MillerCoors is not alone. Competitor Anheuser-Busch InBev removed their caffeinated alcoholic drinks from the market earlier this year after legal questions were raised about a similar alcoholic energy drink.*
Which brings me to the nagging question that’s been tailing me for years now. Why AREN’T the manufacturers of alcohol consistently or at least largely held responsible for societal effects of alcoholism and alcohol abuse? I mean, this went down with cigarette manufacturers last decade. And nearly every manufacturer of anything has mandatory warning labels applied to boxes, wrapping or the products themselves. But as far as I know, no one has pointed the finger or demanded remittance from the producers of booze.
What do you think? If they’re so dedicated to the cause of alcohol responsibility, why aren’t corporations creating funds to support recovery? Are makers of wine, liquor and beer getting off easy? In a consumer society with some accountability, should we start demanding change? What might be done? Or are alcoholics alone responsible for their own sobriety?