A few months ago I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post on the political overreaction to a few deaths in the United States that were connected to energy drink consumption. Despite the fact that only 5 people in the United States have died after consuming energy drinks (mainly due to pre-existing conditions) many politicians have decided that cracking down on caffeine is an appropriate regulatory response. Never mind the fact that an 8 ounce home brewed coffee contains more caffeine than a can of NOS energy drink.
Because sensationalist news stories have no borders, the Government of Canada felt compelled to impose limits on caffeine content for energy drinks. Below are pictures of two diet NOS energy drinks purchased today. The can on the left is the new stock, and the can on the right is the old stock being phased out. Note the difference in caffeine content (24 mg less per can). This reduction was in reaction to the new 180mg cap on caffeine content in energy drinks, which rendered the old formula illegal.
Like New York’s infamous large soda ban, recently struck down by the New York Supreme Court, this type of nanny state policy won’t actually protect people from themselves. For all the regulators know, some people will go from drinking one can per day to one can and a half. Or, perhaps some people will decide to shift towards coffee, which is far more caffeinated to begin with. It’s not hard to get around these regulations.
Maybe Canadians consume too much caffeine. But we also consume too much sugar, too much saturated fat, and too much salt. That just isn’t the government’s business. While the caffeine cap is a minor nuisance, it is only the beginning. The nanny state is in ascent. Better hide your salt shakers.