Stop targeting underage drinkers

Attorney general says stimulant-filled alcohol energy drinks pose serious health risk

From staff and wire reports
August 23, 2007 at 9:58 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

BATON ROUGE -- Attorney General Charles C. Foti, Jr., joined by 29 attorneys general nationwide, urged the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to stop alcohol manufacturers from making misleading health-related statements when advertising alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine and other stimulants. Attorney General Foti is the co-chair of the National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol committee.

In a letter to TTB Administrator, John Manfreda, the attorneys general said that alcoholic energy drinks mimic non-alcoholic energy beverages that are very popular with youth. They warn that alcoholic energy drinks pose serious health and safety risks. According to medical researchers and public health professionals, the stimulants in alcoholic energy drinks may cause an intoxicated person to falsely believe that he or she can continue to drink and function normally.

Aggressive marketing campaigns claim these alcoholic energy beverages increase a person's stamina or can have an energizing effect. For instance, BudExtra has an advertising slogan, "You can sleep when you're thirty" and makes claims of renewed strength through the addition of guarana. However, the ads do not mention the potentially severe, adverse consequences of mixing caffeine or other stimulants and alcohol, the attorneys general said.

"Non-alcoholic energy drinks are very popular with today's youth," Attorney General Foti said. "Beverage companies are unconscionably appealing to young drinkers with claims about the stimulating properties of alcoholic energy drinks. We urge TTB to take action to stop companies from making misleading claims."

As TTB has recognized in one of its own publications, "Alcohol is the nation's number one drug problem among youth, and it is involved in teen automobile crashes, homicides and suicides, the three leading causes of teen death." The Surgeon General recently reported that approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die each year from alcohol-related injuries. Alcohol also contributes to risky sexual behavior, poor school performance, and other psychological and sociological dysfunctions among youth.

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