29 State Attorneys General Agree: Alcoholic Energy Drinks Threaten the Health and Safety of America's Youth

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 General News
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SAN RAFAEL, Calif., Aug. 20 Just two short weeks afterMarin Institute released Alcohol, Energy Drinks, and Youth: A Dangerous Mix,in an effort to document a frightening trend in alcoholic beverages targetingunderage youth, the chief legal officers from 29 states have united to condemnalcoholic energy drinks. In a letter released today, the attorneys asked theAlcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to expand its efforts toprevent misleading health-related statements from being made in connectionwith the beverages and to investigate the formulation of alcoholic energydrinks to determine whether they are properly classified as malt beveragesunder federal law.

"We believe that alcoholic energy drinks constitute a serious health andsafety risk for America's youth," said the Attorneys General in today'sletter. They listed a number of products and advertisements that "warrantinvestigation and possible enforcement action ... because they containmisleading health-related claims regarding the products' effects, in violationof federal regulations." The products mentioned included Miller BrewingCompany's Sparks and Sparks Plus, Anheuser-Busch's Bud Extra, and ChargeBeverages' Liquid Charge and Liquid Core.

The Marin Institute report noted that adding alcohol to energy drinkspresents a serious danger for young people. Caffeine, a stimulant, masks theintoxicating effects of alcohol, and may lead to increased risk-taking. Inaddition, youth are known to suffer from higher rates of alcohol problems,including alcohol-related traffic accidents, violence, sexual assault, andsuicide.

"We commend the attorneys general for taking on the companies makingenergy drinks, as we believe they are irresponsibly marketing these drinks toyouth," says Michele Simon, JD, MPH, research and policy director for MarinInstitute and co-author of the report with James Mosher, JD, of PacificInstitute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). "They boast that their productswill enhance energy and alertness, but fail to warn users of the potential formisjudging one's level of intoxication."

"Alcohol producers are taking advantage of the popularity of nonalcoholicenergy drinks to sell their products to youth," added Mosher. "They packagetheir products to be indistinguishable from nonalcoholic energy drinks,confusing consumers, retailers, parents, law enforcement officials, and otherswho can't tell which drinks contain alcohol and which do not."

"The recommendations of the attorneys general echo our own," said Simon."The TTB should investigate the ingredients found in alcoholic energy drinksand determine whether the products are properly classified as malt beveragesunder federal law. The TTB should also take a closer look at the labeling andadvertising practices associated with these youth-targeted drinks."

To read the Attorneys General letter and the Marin Institute report, visithttp://www.marininstitute.org

Contact: Michael Scippa 415/548-0492Pete Ratajczak 415/257-2488 Gilberto Leon 415/810-0158

SOURCE Marin Institute

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