04/25/05 — Trouble brewing: Don’t pop the top on beer alcohol

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Trouble brewing: Don’t pop the top on beer alcohol

There is revelry on the campuses over the prospect that North Carolina law may be changed to allow an unlimited amount of alcohol in beer.

The proposal has been introduced in the Legislature, and it has gained considerable support. This, as the king of Siam said, is a puzzlement.

Suppose someone suggested that the nicotine content of cigarettes be increased. This would intensify the hit that cigarettes give their users, and it would increase the addictive effect. That would be good for the manufacturers, but not for anyone else.

And the alarums from academia would be deafening.

Well, alcohol is to beer what nicotine is to cigarettes. It enhances the effect and makes the product more addictive. So where is the opposition to throwing out the alcohol limit?

The proposal is backed by many of the very people who would, rightly, decry stronger cigarettes.

Why? Because eliminating the 6 percent alcohol limit would benefit so-called progressive bars and restaurants that sell “craft” beers, and such bistros are more common in university communities. Craft beers include those made in “mini-breweries.”

The popular American beers are well below the current legal maximum. Even so, a few of them will turn a good driver into a public menace.

Those who are lobbying to have the limit eliminated argue that it wouldn’t contribute to binge drinking or underage drinking because of the expense. That’s absurd. A kid wanting to get a buzz on could do it quicker and cheaper with fewer unrestricted beers. And there would be a greater chance that he would become addicted.

The dangers of lifting the limit simply outweigh the advantages, and the proposal ought to be killed.

Published in Editorials on April 25, 2005 12:04 PM