March 6, 2014

Blurred Lines and Zero Tolerance

Remember how Joe Camel had to go away because he was too cartoonish and attractive to kids?  Alcohol companies should take note.  I didn't agree that a cartoon camel was encouraging kids to smoke, but I will say that I have been stumped recently, at the variety of alcoholic beverages that appear to be something else.

Last night I ran in to Wally World, and right there past the door, in the PRODUCE section, was an end-cap display of Redd's Apple Ale varieties.  There is the plain apple ale, a strawberry apple mix, and apple ale 'ice tea'.  My kids gravitated toward it, as they don't know, specifically, what "ale" is, and were confused by the ice tea moniker.  And the package has a giant apple on it, that's healthy for everyone, right?

In the past, I have seen sparkling cider near the apples, looking like champagne, offering the teetotalers and children a cork to pop on special occasions.  I don't recall ever seeing an actual champagne display near the grapes.  I have seen 'hard lemondade' in the produce section, though.

With marketing specialists and retailers blurring the lines between what we think are 'healthy and good for everyone' products and those containing alcohol, and considering how alcohol is promoted, packaged and featured in retail stores these days, I am not too surprised that there is confusion.  It will likely lead to more stories (or convenient excuses) like this:
Lainey Tackett, 13, said she was standing in line waiting for class this year when another student handed her a can of Bud Light Cran-Brrr-Rita that she mistook for canned cranberry juice, such as Ocean Spray or V8 V-Fusion.


Her confusion can be justified, don't you think?  She should also point out that food labels are too confusing for females to figure out, so she didn't realize it was alcohol.  If the president's wife says it, it has to be true.

Of course, poor Lainey is now another victim of a school's zero tolerance policy, kicked off the cheerleading squad and sent to alternative school for 88 days, because she brought the unopened can back on campus and returned it to the girl that handed it to her.  Zero tolerance policies do not take into account the student's past behavior, the circumstances of the situation, or the character of those involved.  I don't know whether Lainey's story is believable, because I don't know her.  She was a cheerleader and a good student, according to the article.  She didn't drink the alcohol, she returned it.  If nothing else, these cases need to be weighed on their merits and stop hiding behind idiotic policies, that, as my friend Tim pointed out, do nothing other than insure that school officials never have to make a decision on their own.