By Sofi Tzouanakis
These products are alcoholic beverages hidden in bright colors, sugars and appealing packaging, putting on the facade of sodas and energy drinks to draw in a younger audience.
In addition to the fruity flavors and cool names, the alcohol companies make bigger serving sizes for their drinks.
One 24-ounce single-serving Four Loko can, at 12% alcohol content, is the equivalent of 5.7 cans of Bud-Light.
With two of those Four Lokos in an hour, you can easily get to a potentially fatal blood alcohol level of 0.30%.
Worse, alcohol companies are increasing the alcohol content to 20% and 25%.
Since 2009, the Youth Coalition on Alcohol Education has helped educate parents, educators and others about the dangers of these drinks and the sneaky marketing tactics employed by their makers.
Our chief tool has been our popular Alcopops presentation that graphically demonstrates the facts outlined above.
Here are some quick questions that can educate you as a parent so that you can help your teen avoid becoming a victim of the alcohol industry’s deceptive practices.
Q: How do we tell the difference between non-alcoholic beverages and Alcopops if they’re so similar?
A: Alcoholic beverages always contain the Surgeon General’s warning and Alcohol Percentage by Volume (%ALC/VOL).
Alcohol products generally DO NOT contain nutrition facts on the packaging.
A nutrition facts label can be found on non-alcoholic, single-serving drinks as well as non-alcohol multi-packs.
Q: Where can I learn more?
A: I would recommend doing online research on everything in this article.
Education truly is an integral part of helping the teens in your life.
Q: Now that I’m armed with this information, how do I help my teens?
A: Talk to them and be a good influence. Adults, and particularly parents, are the most influential forces in the lives of young people.
Take action by not allowing underage drinking, and don’t be an enabler or provider of alcohol to teens.
Take this information and use it to help my generation make the right choices, or as many as they can. We were all young and dumb once, but ignorance is not bliss and we all face consequences for our decisions.
As parents, guardians, adults and educators you know this.
Use it to help the kids you love and care about become bright, happy and successful in the years to come.
Sofi Tzouanakis, a junior at Henry Clay High, is the president of the Youth Coalition on Alcohol Education.