Suffolk eyes ban on energy drink sales to teens

12/26/2010 1:47 PM |

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | A bill before the Suffolk County Legislature to ban the sale of energy drinks to teens is the first of its kind in the nation.

Suffolk teenagers craving their next Red Bull may soon have to cross the border into Nassau County to quench their thirst.

The Suffolk County Legislature hosted a public hearing Tuesday on a bill that would ban the sale of energy drinks to consumers under the age of 19. While the bill has not been voted into law by the 18-member legislature, it at least has the support of the eight legislators co-sponsoring it.

“These energy drinks can be very detrimental to young people,” said Legislator Lynne Nowick (R-St. James), the primary sponsor of the bill.

As part of the bill, convenience stores and grocers who sell caffeinated energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster would be required to post signs warning customers of the health risks associated with such beverages.

The proposal would fine retailers $500 for selling energy drinks to minors and $250 for not posting the sign.

The University of Texas Medical School at Houston reported last month that energy drinks contain more caffeine than a strong cup of coffee. Standard energy drinks contain about 200 mg of caffeine per 16 ounces.

A study published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment shows that consumption of more than one energy drink in a 24-hour period can lead to sleeplessness, and potentially damage to the heart and stomach.

While four states have banned alcoholic energy drinks, and Governor David Paterson brokered a deal this fall to stop the sale of Four Loko in New York, there is no legislation limiting the sale of non-alcoholic energy drinks anywhere in this country.

The soft drink and beverage distribution lobbyists who testified at the hearing Tuesday said the bill was unnecessary and would be hard on retailers already dealing with a sluggish economy.

Ken Meyer, vice president of Clare Rose beverage distributors, said creating legal hurdles is not the answer. “You’ve got to educate rather than legislate,” he said.

Legislator Jack Eddington (WF-Medford) said he personally drinks energy drinks as an alternative to coffee and he did his best to make the case for his peers to vote against a ban.

“I don’t like telling 18-and-19-year-olds what they can and can’t do,” said Legislator Jack Eddington. “They can fight in a war, but they can’t buy an energy drink? Where are our priorities.”

The hearing was recessed after 40 minutes of debate and will likely be taken up for a vote in early 2011.

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58 Comment

  • The age should be 16…at 17 many are graduating high school and joining the service. They are quite capable of making that decision whether or not to drink these energy drinks (which are ridiculous anyhow).

  • Urine is an energy drink. Its true, Google it.

  • I think its great that they’re banning it. This is the same thing Chris Benoit was drinking when he had that horrible accident. We need to keep this junk away from our kids.

  • The average energy drink is full of caffeine and sugar which makes one feel jittery and causes the body to eventually crash. High doses of caffeine and sugar are not only harmful for teenagers, but for adults too. bHIP Energy Blend, however, contains no caffeine and only 2 grams of sugar. It energizes the body and mind through many vitamins and other natural ingredients. bHIP Energy Blend is the only product of its kind that can healthily give the body long lasting energy.

  • This is Ridiculous!! Education is the answer to this supposed issue (and all problems). Parents and the community need to be more responsible educators. Kids will make good choices when given the right knowledge from someone who they trust. We need more good role models. Not a ban. Skateboards cause more harm every year than energy drinks. Maybe Suffolk County should ban sales of those too? People that want “bans” want them, in my opinion, because it is easier than the other option, which is to really care and make an effort to educate children on a more personal basis.

  • Chris Benoit was on a regimen of multiple forms of steroids, his “accident” was committing a double homicide and then taking his own life. Something tells me it wasn’t the redbull.