Skull Bashers


Credit: Courtesy Crystal Head Vodka

"The image of the human skull is the thing that's really problematic for us," a spokesman for the Ontario Liquor Control Board told The Globe and Mail, explaining why the actor Dan Aykroyd's Crystal Head vodka had been banned in the province. "That's an image that's commonly associated with death. It's especially problematic at a time when there are concerns around binge drinking by younger adults, which in some cases unfortunately has resulted in alcohol poisoning."

If skull-shaped liquor bottles remind people of death from alcohol poisoning, you might think they'd deter excessive consumption. But public health paternalists argue that death-related imagery, which serves as a warning when used by the government, serves as an enticement when used by marketers, practically daring careless thrill seekers to consume the product. Hence the controversies over Death cigarettes and Black Death vodka.

Whatever the merits of that argument, it's highly improbable that binge-drinking "younger adults" will want to lay out $60 for a bottle of Aykroyd's super-premium vodka when they can get much more buzz for their buck from beer (or cheap vodka). For his part, Aykroyd, an Ontario native, was unperturbed by the ban, which he said "kind of makes the product more appealing."