Energy Drink Ban: Should Children Be Restricted From Buying?


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.


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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  • Penelope

    So Suzanne, you are happy for your tax to fund the increasing problem of emergency admissions to hospitals? (Disclosure: I am not a parent.)

  • arsenicCatnip

    I used energy drinks a lot while I was studying for my Highers (A levels), and I can safely say that they helped considerably. I don’t see how drinking high caffeine drinks is in any way a “selfish desire”

  • seafunk

    Well according to your logic, we should legalize all stimulants, right?

    Look at Bolivia for example, they do not have a cocaine problem, never had and probably never will. It’s an essential part of their culture.

    So should America legalize it for those who can not handle their use and slip into addiction?

    The way I see it caffeine is one of the three drugs that have been part of our culture for centuries now. Of course it sounds outrageous to you when someone is suggesting restrictive changes in legislation, but don’t pretend our youth would not benefit from tighter regulations.

    I dare say you and many others, including me, are simply afraid to have our drug of choice taken away. It already happened to smoking which is far less acceptable then it used to be in the fifties, when it was normal for pregnant women to smoke and good manners to have cigarettes around for guests.

    I don’t see us removing caffeine the way removed smoking since it has plenty of beneficial effects on health and is THE stimulant that keeps the country running. Just like we won’t remove Betel nuts or cocaine from other cultures, both of which being drugs we frown upon. The vast majority of people have an intrinsical desire to get high.
    Now half of the Western part of the USA is actually buying into the lie that their populace is using cannabis as medication, which is completely absurd.

    Drugs, drugs, drugs, take them all away and people will go ballistics. You just prove that point with your angry rant capital lettered rant.

  • seafunk

    And besides all that, my daughter is not even allowed Iced Tea for now. I know damn well I won’t keep her away from it forever. She can buy caffeine on every corner. We are at a point at which we even consume caffeine without knowing it, most people don’t even consider it a drug because their morning dose is what makes them feel normal.

    No fucking way will your children stay away from caffeine when they see you drinking it.

  • seafunk

    Saturated fats are just about as big a risk factor for Diabetes II as high GI food, e.g. sucrose is.

    However what by fucking far is the biggest risk factor is obesity which often just goes hand in hand with said dietary patterns. Drinking sugar and eating tons of fat isn’t as bad as many think, not for those otherwise healthy or even underweight. It’s the fatty tissue that is killing people, cardiovasular issues being a far bigger cost factor for society than diabetes.

  • I am 13 and i am a total caffeine no-effecter. I can drink a energy drink/coffee and fall asleep in 20 minutes. I can totally control how much caffeine i drink. 1 cup of coffee in the morning and a coke in the afternoon. So i go against this topic, but maybe we need to teach other kids new to caffeine to not drink too much.

  • Diana B

    Thank you…..I would like to believe my child is doing the right things…thru good parenting… but I’m not with him 24-7…..


    If it gets ban to 18 year olds I’ll let my brother get it and while I’m drinking goodness, I’ll think of all the bad parents and also say “fuck you fda, i wanna get caffeinated as fuck” every time I get a chance.

  • Jim Rockford

    The only issue here is parents that dont know what the hell an energy drink is, and kids that drink them down like soda. 4 or 5 in a day. THAT is how this happens.

    I’m 22 and weigh 185 and after just two in one day my muscles and veins get all twitchy, that’s when I stop. But I only have one a day, or 1/2 a one and alternate with juice or Gatorade.

    You have to know your limits and understand how much you can take in one 24 hour period. I have friends in their 30’s that cant even drink 1/2 a can before they go nuts.

  • Jim Rockford

    Parents, where do you think? Such a stupid question.

  • Anonymous

    I’m 12 and I consume more caffeine than the average 12 year old in one week. While it may not be good for others, or it may keep them awake for several hours, I can chug 2 cans of monster and take a nap. I’m not a very big coffee fan so I stick to energy drinks and soda to give me boosts of caffeine. My lifestyle is different from most people in my age group but back to the discussion.

    The effect caffeine has on your body depends on how much you consume, and how often you consume caffeinated beverage. There are 7 year old’s going and getting 3-4 energy drinks and drinking them in one sitting. This is why we have caffeine overdoses, If parents would actually watch after their children we wouldn’t have these problems. I still want to be able to have the sweet taste of Monster or Red Bull in my mouth before I use my treadmill, or go to school in the morning.

  • destiny

    i think kids should not drink monsters because they can die

  • Dave brown

    I think the fact the last and in general most people don’t seem to realise that its the sugar that is also the problem is very relevant Why caffeine is so important to this discussion is frankly a mystery to me

  • Joe

    I went with some kids to a convenience store a couple days ago and tried my first monster. I enjoyed it, but then I completely lost control. I wasn’t hyper or anything, I just couldn’t think straight. I don’t know what happened. I am a starting player for my middle school team and my central mass basketball team and weigh in at about 210, and I usually don’t have bad effects with caffeine. Most of the other kids didn’t have any problems with it, so I wasn’t expecting it. I don’t think the fda should stop sale to minors, because it is a choice we make. It didn’t work out for me, but that shouldn’t effect other people’s ability to get it. I simply don’t drink more than one can a week now, and I am fine

  • Matthew Terlaje

    I have been drinking coffee and soda most of my teenage life. I’m still a teen, and I don’t know what to eat or drink to make the need for caffeine to go away. I think CAFFEINE is a DRUG. It should be either taken out of coffee and sodas or make it illegal for minors (including me) to drink ANYTHING that has caffeine. The legal age for chugging caffeine should be 21. Any suggestions?

  • jacob

    Somebody’s a little bitch

  • james

    That’s the point its trade mark is unleash the beast. Try something more your level like kick start or nos

  • j

    WOW good case if there stupid enough to chug more than they can handle that’s there fault.

  • j

    Finally a person with sense

  • my name is jeff

    yah and acoording to this website i(a 12 year old) could die from hersheys chocolate milk

Last Modified: March 27, 2015