Energy Drink Ban Sought By Some State and Local Lawmakers

The state of Illinois and a New York county are considering new legislation that would restrict the sale of energy drinks to minors, as concerns continue to mount over the potential health risks of drinks like Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar

Two bills recently introduced in the Illinois House of Representatives would not only ban the sale of energy drinks to minors, but would also make it illegal to buy an energy drink for anyone under 18, similar to current laws banning the sale of alcohol and tobacco to juveniles. One bill has already been approved by a committee.

That bill, House Bill 2379, avoids mentioning caffeine to avoid affecting coffee, but instead lists other oft-used energy drink ingredients, including ginsing, glucuronolactone, guarana, ginsing, and taurine. Some observers say that could cause the bill some trouble, as caffeine is the ingredient most studies have highlighted as the major concern of energy drinks, which often contain several times the caffeine of a cup of coffee or can of soda.

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Some lawmakers say they will oppose the bill, calling it a stretch of state powers, while supporters point out that the state already does the same with alcohol and tobacco, so the bills represent no increase in government power.

A similar law is under consideration in Suffolk County, New York, where County Executive Steve Bellone is considering signing a new county law that would ban energy drink sale to minors at county parks and beaches. The new laws would also outlaw the mailing of energy drink coupons and samples to minors.

Energy Drink Side Effects Under Scrutiny

The push for new restrictions comes amid growing concern over side effects stemming from energy drink consumption, and in some cases death. The FDA has received at least 37 adverse event reports involving Monster energy drinks since 2004, including six deaths.

A 14 year old California girl suffered cardiac arrest last year, allegedly caused by caffeine overdose after drinking two Monster Energy drinks over a 24 hour-period. Her parents are currently pursuing a lawsuit against Monster Energy Corp.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that children should not consumer any energy drinks, as the risk of caffein overdose may be especially harmful for children, who should not consumer more than 100 mg of caffeine in a day. Most energy drinks currently on the market contain more than that amount and some have nearly three times as much.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association linked energy drinks to serious side effects, such as increased heart rate, sleep disturbances, hyperglycemia and diuresis. Other reports indicate emergency room visits concerning energy drink side effects are rising, doubling over the past four years.


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