Anheuser Busch and Miller Brewing are facing questions from a posse of state AGs concerning alcohol-containing energy drinks — Bud Extra in A-B’s case and Sparks in Miller’s. The companies don’t think they should feel so all alone, since there are other similarly constituted drinks already on the market.
Documents are under subpoena from both companies regarding the marketing of drinks that combine alcohol and caffeine. The companies are said to be cooperating with the investigation, even while they deny charges that they are targeting underage drinkers. They said the drinks have already been approved by appropriate regulatory agencies at both the state and federal level.
According to reports, AGs in New York, Maine, Maryland, Iowa, Arizona and Illinois are involved one or both of the companies.
Critics of the drinks compare them to non-alcoholic energy drinks popular with young demos. But the manufacturers point out that there are already drinks mixing alcohol and caffeine available, not the least of which is the venerable cocktail offering of rum and cola.
RBR/TVBR observation: Court precedent holds that advertising speech is not as free as the regular old free speech that your or this publication enjoys. However, it is best for everybody if advertising speech remains as free as possible. There is ongoing debate on alcohol advertising, particularly where the venue of choice attracts a certain percentage of underage consumers. However, as long as the advertising is socially responsible, the product is legal, and the advertisers do not make false claims, in our view, allowing it to go forward is most consistent with the Constitution.