Energy Drink Ban: Should Children Be Restricted From Buying?

ban-energy-drink-sales-for-minors

A ban on the sale of energy drinks to minors in the USA is becoming more likely as more reports surface of their potential dangers to this age group.

Emergency room visits as well as reports to Poison Control Centers are all on the increase and now the government seems to be taking notice more than ever.

The FDA recently commissioned The Institute of Medicine to investigate this issue, so that they could make educated and informed decisions as part of their efforts to revise their caffeine in food and beverage guidelines.

The IOM’s Findings Regarding Children’s Consumption

The IOM referenced a study from The International Life Sciences Institute who has been tracking caffeine consumption in the USA. Here is how children are currently consuming caffeine.

children-energy-drink-consumption

What we can learn from the data:

  1. Energy Drinks make up just a small percentage of the way 2-17 year olds are consuming caffeine.
  2. Soda and tea are the primary caffeine sources for this age group.
  3. Energy drinks are more popular with 13-17 year olds or minor teenagers. However soda is by far the #1 caffeine delivery method for this age group.

The IOM also analyzed data from poison control centers from of reports of energy drink/energy product over-consumption. Here’s what they concluded.

In summary, energy product exposure calls to U.S. poison centers initially increased but appear to have stabilized, although without a full year (2013) of data, it is difficult to know whether the trend has in fact stabilized. Most energy product exposure calls are unintentional, followed by misuse and abuse. The most frequently reported clinical effects were agitation, irritability, and tachycardia. But 18 percent of energy product calls were recorded as having no effect.

However, The IOM noted that a Florida study indicated that emergency room visits were on the rise as a result of energy drink overdose and questioned their safety for children and children with medical conditions, since the overall safety of energy drinks is still unknown.

In 2013 The American Medical Association voted that the marketing of Energy Drinks to those under 18 should be suspended.

The FDA has not yet made a decision about the sale energy drinks to minors based on the IOM’s report.

More recently a group of researchers from The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University studied the issue and
concluded the following:

These products pose a risk of caffeine toxicity when consumed by some young people, and there is evidence of other troubling physiological and behavioral effects associated with their consumption by youth.”

They are recommending that energy drinks be restricted for those under 18 years of age. Study Link.

Energy Drink Marketing to Teens

A report written by the staff of Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) in coordination with the staff of Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) titled, “Buzz Kill” seeks to explore how energy drinks are being marketed and consumed by teens.

In the report they state the following:

Overall, four out of 12 responding energy drink companies (Dr. Pepper Snapple, Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar) demonstrated significant gaps in making commitments to protect adolescents from targeted marketing campaigns. These four companies represent approximately 90 percent of US energy drink sales. Four other energy drink companies (Arizona, Celsius, XYIENCE, and SK Energy) demonstrated high commitments to policies that would protect adolescents from potentially harmful advertising messages and promote informed use.

They ultimately want to pass new guidelines that would:

  1. Cease the marketing of energy drinks to those under the age of 18.
  2. Enact improved label and caffeine safe limit guidelines by the FDA.
  3. Establish voluntary reporting of adverse reactions from energy drinks by the energy companies to the FDA.
  4. Cause the FDA to define what an energy drink is.
  5. Stop caffeinated beverages from being labeled and marketed as hydration beverages.
  6. Restrict energy drink sales at all K-12 schools.

History of Proposed Energy Drink Bans

Despite no national precedence, some jurisdictions have tried to establish local energy drink restrictions to minors. Here are some that we have tracked.

1. Kentucky legislators are looked at banning energy drink sales to minors (that’s anyone under 18).

Bevnet has the inside info:

[…] a student from Brodhead, Ky., inspired the bill when he related his experience with an energy drink for a contest called “It ought to be a law.”

“This young man bought an energy drink on the way to school one morning,” Ford said. “He had a situation that his heart started beating rapidly and he had a bad experience with it.”

Kentucky lawmaker Danny Ford placed a limit of 71mg caffeine per 12oz in his proposal.

This proposed measure did not pass.

2. Suffolk County (New York City) tried to ban the sale of energy drinks to those under 19 years of age.

This 2010 measure by county legislator Lynne Nowick targeted beverages with more than 80mg of caffeine per serving.

This measure didn’t pass. src.

3. Chicago attempted restricting those under 21 from buying energy drinks.

This 2012 ban was proposed by George Cardenas as a city-wide ordinance and targeted beverages like Monster and Rockstar.

This measure didn’t pass. src.

4. The City of Los Angeles city council is considering energy drink sales restrictions.

Councilman Bernard Parks proposed the motion on January 27, 2014. His plan is 3 fold but would involve establishing an age requirement for the purchase of energy drinks.

This measure is currently in debate. src.
5. Maryland is considering a teen energy drink ban.

Delegate Kathleen M. Dumais is sponsoring the bill that would be 3 fold:

  • Prohibit energy drink sales to minors.
  • Make it illegal for minors to posses energy drinks.
  • Remove energy drinks from vending machines state-wide.

This legislation is pending. src.

This measure was voted down and killed in committee with a 22-1 vote. 

Caffeine Safety is Important

While there are substances that have far more reported cases of overdose and abuse than energy drinks, we feel that preventing even one needless caffeine death is worth action.

It is well worth looking at ways to be  more diligent at preventing kids from consuming too much caffeine.

Many energy drinks do have more than the recommended safe caffeine dose for minors

Whether banning energy drinks or restricting their sale to minors is the answer or not remains to be seen, but we do believe that education is extremely important.

It’s vital that both parents and children be aware of the amount of caffeine that is being consumed as well as the dangers that can result from consuming too much.

What do you think? Should the sale of energy drinks be restricted?

Reference: National Research Council. Caffeine in Food and Dietary Supplements: Examining Safety: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2014.

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  • HOBOBOB

    i just read this a few min. ago from the bevnet thing…wow..this is honestly a load of bullshit and obviously hasn’t had a whole lot of thought behind it…Just the story in and of itself..a guy got an energy drink and had troubles…wtf, that means nothing. We don’t know if he had caffeine sensitivity or if he read the label on the can (assuming its a stronger one like spike) or if he had already had coffee or some other drink. At 16, I have been asked for my ID at gas stations a few times when trying to get something like an upshot (which is rediculous) but at a GNC, I can walk in and come out with a 4 pack of spike or redline…Granted, I probably know my tolerance better than most people my age, but anyone can read a label. The experience of this one person is insufficient to deprive minors of drinks… we’d still get them..it’d just be annoying, and I have a feeling that many of them (including myself) would just turn to pills..a few dollars at walmart for 90 pills, 200mg a whack, large revune losses for maufacturers and I save money…bad idea on their part.

  • Kaze

    I completely agree; it’s ridiculous. I just hope that it takes them awhile (like a year and a half or so) before it gets to Texas.
    I was actually asked for ID once when I was just trying to buy a Full throttle Fury, that was also really stupid. I think it was because me being (at the time) 15 and (even still) rather short, the clerk thought I wouldn’t be able to handle it at whatever age he thought I was. I don’t know, that’s as well as I can guess, but it was still stupid- I had been buying the same drink for a year prior to that just a few blocks from my house. Now i’ve upgraded to Monster Heavy Metal (32 oz) and haven’t been hassled about it.

  • CCgamer

    It’s stupid… they blame the drink instead of the kid. Last time I checked I never saw a can of Monster yelling at me to drink it… Although I have imagined it. 😉

  • Andrew

    I agree. If said guy had bad reaction to said drink then maybe he shouldn’t drink any more energy drinks. Just that simple.

    Now I’m not at all implying that energy drinks and alcohol are equal or whatever but remember they tried to ban alcohol? Prohibition. Haha!

    It’s all a load of crap.

  • josh

    Energy Drinks don’t hurt people, people hurt themselves when they try to drink too many energy drinks.

  • Adam

    We must protect stupid people from themselves!! The same thing happened with ephedra. A handful of bad experiences/deaths and an almost instant ban was instated. BUT, something like tobacco, where the money is in the business and gov’t. can have thousands of ‘bad experiences’ a day with little more than what Ky is giving energy drinks.
    That said, I agree some effort should be made to keep the high-test energy drinks from the kiddies. Last thing I want is my 11 yrold pounding back Redlines. It is MY responsibility to make sure she doesn’t, not the gov’t. But, hey, that’s just me. I could be wrong.

  • Sethamphetamine

    People go so far out of their way to get killed by me. If you want to die you can just ask me. No need to go through all this bullshit!

  • Sethamphetamine

    P.S. You can take my energy drink when you pry it from my cold dead hands!

  • videoCWK

    This will probably lead to them taking glucoronolactone out of all the drinks because no one knows what it is.

  • PG

    You numbskulls wouldn’t need “energy” drinks if you would just get some f***ing sleep, and weene yourselves off the stimulant.

    Cracks me up to see the addicts crash and burn at 2:00 and almost fall asleep at the wheel driving to 7-11 to get their fix.

    Don’t you know your bodies will keep adapting and require more and more until companies will have to shovel caffiene into your drinks by the truck-load to get the same effect?

    Wake up…”literally”.

  • All that i have to say is watch how much u drink and how many days a week u drink it. I can say from experience that too much caffine is very bad for you. Just be moderate. dont drink a redline every lunch, cus if u need that strong a drink in the middle of the day then you should cut back. Save them for the all night LAN party or whatever you do to get the jitters without risking your heart and BP. stay safe, and watch how much u drink.

  • MDQ

    tr4ckba11, Would two energy drinks per day be a genuine risk to heart or blood pressure? That’s scary if true!

  • zack

    sence it cant be banned without consuming Taurine AND Glucoronolactone they find a way to make a energy drink withouyt those.

  • Subway

    Here we go again. More laws to protect stupid people from their own stupidity, which wouldn’t be necessary if the stupid people were less stupid. Then the rest of us with more than half a brain suffer.

    It’s all about moderation, self-regulated based on your personal tolerance levels. I’m just waiting for an accidental caffeine suicide to make the Darwin Awards and send the medical / caffinated community into an all-out, “Bawls to the wall” war.

  • Kaylea

    banning energy drinks?
    that is ridiculous. im drinkin’ red jak right now and im pretty sure im still alive and nothings happened. ive always drank them and always will. i mean you never know that certain guy couldve had something wrong with his heart or something it doesnt mean it was the drink.
    they should not ban energy drinks anywhere!!!!!

  • Obviously Not You.

    This is the kind of stupidity that makes Starbucks put “Warning: This drink might be HOT” on their cups.

  • Tormir

    This is retarded. We had a teacher at my school who did a poll thing about this, trying for the same thing. I would grab a monster or a full throttle, sometimes a redbull before class almost everymorning. I didn’t really need it, but I wanted it. It never messed with me at all. If people weren’t so stupid, we wouldn’t be in danger of having our drinks banned…. Hell, I’m drinking one now. xD

  • Saber

    Wow, energy drinks do have effects on some people that have reactions, but if you are one of them, why are you drinking them in the firsts place? Are you just trying to prove that you have a terrible and ugly reaction to caffeine. You must have learned that when u were 10 when you first tried coffee. God. Energy drinks hurt people that are unaware of their problems and or drink5 of them in one night.

  • matt

    WOW THE IDIOIC OF OUR counrty is growing i mean why shoudl every1 else suffer cause some dumb kid cant handle a redline i mean crap ive been a caffine drink sience i was 2 coffee every morning and a Redline about 3x a week it dont hurt me and im 5″5′ and weigh 125 i try to gain weight but my metablisim is like super high

  • Lisa

    We don’t need to get rid of any of the energy drinks. Little teenagers [like me] need to stop being stupid and ruining it for the other, smarter little teenagers.
    This will sound stupid, but I have a goals list of things to do before I’m 18 and one of them is to try every non-alcoholic energy drink possible…..how am I supposed to complete my ambitions as well as be ambitious in the future if Kentucky makes it illegal?

Last Modified: March 27, 2015