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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  • my name is jeff

    exacly i am just like you

  • Average Cupajoe

    Dave, if it’s a “mystery to you”, you don’t read well at all. Caffeine causes tachycardia and other symptoms at high doses, and it is a drug. Hence, concern for how much children are putting in their bodies. Start over and read slowly, perhaps out loud, so you don’t miss anything this time.

  • Will C

    This very ignorant when thinking of all that woupd be affected from a caffeine ban to people under 21, why should caffeine be treated the same as alcohol which kills or affects more people world wide than caffeine and marijuana and energy drinks. We should focus on non-time wasting problems like illegalizing TOBACCO OR ALCOHOL both which KILL HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS IF NOT MILLIONS WORLDWIDE EVERY YEAR!!! energy drinks don’t even kill hundreds a year worldwide

  • Isaiah Lan

    Uh, no, removing caffeine from coffee defeats the purpose of coffee. Your comment is uneducated and makes no sense, Not even a 100 nation wide are killed via caffeine. 21? Seriously? I could drive by that age but i cannot consume caffeine? Caffeine is naturally occurring, it is not a drug and should not be treated as such.

  • stu

    Energy drinks should be sold to who ever wants to buy them because this is america and caffeine is not nicotine. Saying that parents should be letting their 12 year olds kick back 2 Monsters when they get home from school, its irresponsible. Any one who overdoses on caffeine has a serious lack of intelligence and is extremely dedicated to what ever they’re drinking. The amount of caffeine per serving in an average energy drink is less than coffee so, it is in no way dangerous to any one seeing as how people have been drinking coffee for thousands of year with out issues. the issue is that parents don’t know the difference between energy drinks and soda and let there children drink energy drinks like soda. Parents watch what your kids are drinking, and kids old enough to go to the store and pick out a drink with out their parents permission don’t be retarded.

  • Toooo1

    Some kids like me are addicted to energy drinks… it’s pretty damn hard to stop drinking em. I say let energy drinks be like smoking, it’s bad but never gets banned.

  • KEVIN ELLIOTT

    This would be the best thing to happen. There have been far too many kids that have lost their lives from drinking those energy drinks

  • Brandon

    Caffeine and energy drinks are great. you just need to know how to control them. you can fuck your life up by having too much caffeine in one sitting. they’re scared that kids are gonna kill themselves by caffeine overdose. but that’s the drinkers fault not the company’s fault or the sellers fault. you have to be responsible with Caffeine just like alcohol; its dangerous if its not controlled.

  • Brandon

    Well it depends on what the Caffeine percentage is. if its just under 200mg/150ml or something like that. you SHOULD be fine. just try to stick to those 250ml one’s those have less effect on your heart as they have only about 250mg’s of caffeine in so it should be no problem

  • Ted

    It would probably be a good idea to check out our database to get a better understanding of how much caffeine is in energy drinks. The vast majority of energy drinks have just 80 mg of caffeine per 250 ml can or 160 mg per 500 ml can.

  • DoktorJones

    As a former teenager who used to consume a large quantity of highly-caffeinated sodas (in the days before energy drinks were a thing), I say no to this ban. I would much rather see the FDA direct their energy and money to launching an informative campaign that warns teens of the danger of excessive caffeine/energy drink intake.

    Similar to the way schools with comprehensive sex-ed programs seem to have lower pregnancy rates than those with abstinence-only programs, I think ensuring that today’s children are aware of the consequences of overconsumption will enable them to make educated choices about their caffeine intake.

    In the end, it should really be the parent(s) talking with their children about it and helping them to make informed choices, but a moderate educational campaign wouldn’t hurt. Energy drink manufacturers might even back it financially because instead of condemning and restricting their product and sales, it simply encourages moderation which ultimately can help long-term sales because instead of a teen overdosing on energy drinks and developing a heart condition or dying, the teen learns to consume responsibly and becomes a customer for (a much longer and healthier) life!

  • DoktorJones

    There is nothing you can “eat or drink” to make the “need for caffeine go away”. As a former consumer of highly-caffeinated products, it just takes willpower. Next time you’re craving a soda or coffee, ask yourself “do I really need this?” — if you’re thirsty, pour yourself a glass of water or juice or milk instead. If you really like the carbonation of a soda, try flavored seltzer waters instead.

    Just like in the days before nicotine patches were a thing, smokers would wean themselves off their “habit” by substituting something else… but it all comes down to willpower: can you make yourself stop consuming that which you don’t want to consume?

    Plus, once you’ve forced yourself to cut out the consumption, you will feel proud and happy. Perhaps one day you can even go back to drinking it in moderation (I now average about one Red Bull a day on weekdays; I may go the entire weekend without drinking any soda, though on particularly rough days at work I might have a soda as well or even a second Red Bull). I also constantly monitor my intake now, and if I feel I’m starting to “get back into it”, I force myself to scale back, drinking seltzer water or plain drinking water instead when I get the craving.

  • DoktorJones

    You might want to try the 8oz can of Red Bull instead. I personally prefer the flavor of Monster, but it hits me harder (and has a lot more calories too — I can’t stand the artificially sweetened crap), so I drink RB instead. It’d be nice if they offered 8oz cans of Monster!

    You could also just pour the Monster into a pair of resealable travel mugs, and effectively only drink half a can at a time… you may find its impact on you to be more reasonable and tolerable. If you don’t like the way you feel when you drink a whole can — don’t!

  • DoktorJones

    I think people shouldn’t drive cars because they can die.

    The point of this article is whether the consumption should be *banned*, or whether it should be left to the consumer’s discretion. If you think it should be banned, then should driving cars be banned too?

    Think about that one for a bit.

  • DoktorJones

    I wish more kids/teens were responsible self-educating consumers like you. Kudos to your parents as well for raising a child with critical thinking skills!

  • DoktorJones

    The most important thing here is education: make sure kids know the effects of consuming too much, and how to watch for the signs that they’re pushing their body’s tolerance (everyone’s body absorbs and reacts to caffeine at different rates — an 80lb 11 year old might barely get a buzz off a can of Monster while a 120lb 12 year old might get all jittery and nauseous).

    The world isn’t black and white; energy drinks aren’t “good” or “bad” — kids need to learn *how much* is bad, or *when* is bad (such as right before semester finals in high school, if it gets you so wound up you can’t focus and think straight).

  • DoktorJones

    If your toddler is walking into a store and buying an energy drink on their own… what the hell is wrong with you? If you’re putting an energy drink in your toddler’s sippy cup… what the hell is wrong with you?

    It’s bad parenting if the parent(s) aren’t taking responsibility to explain *both* the good and the bad sides of energy drinks, and how to identify if their body is reacting negatively to it. It’s bad parenting if the parent fails to do that, then sues the energy drink maker because they bought their kid an 8 pack of Red Bull and he slammed it down all in one night and nearly had a heart attack.

    While the responsibility does not *solely* lie with the parent(s), there’s a reason it’s called “parenting” — because it’s what parents (are supposed to) do. Teach your kids right from wrong, be there for them when they make bad choices, and hope they learn from their mistakes.

  • DoktorJones

    If you *educate* your child (and by that I mean one-on-one talks, not shoving him off to school every day), then most of the time he will make the right choices, and you have done your job as a parent.

    If he does go out and slam down four Monsters in a row and gets sick — if your first reaction is to take him to the hospital, be with him and show him you’re there for him and supportive of him even though he made a bad choice, then you have done your job as a parent; if your first reaction is to sue the energy drink manufacturers… well that’s not really supporting your son and helping him learn his lesson, is it?

  • Narr d (Narrd)

    As a current teenager why drinks a large amount of energy drinks daily, i feel that there should be a ban to younger youth buying energy drinks. I drink energy drinks when i can be cause i can say that i am addicted to them and don’t enjoy it.

    I know it sounds dumb, how can someone get addicted to energy drinks, well the do contain very high levels of caffeine and sugar, which are both very addictive substances. warning young youth about the dangers of energy drinks wont help much (may be 4-10 may listen to the advice, but the way that society is going at the moment no one really cares about old people telling you what to do.

    the best way to stop/reduce the use of energy drinks would be to put restrictions on the buying and selling of energy drinks. Telling a child not to do something will increase the chance of them doing what they were told not to (we were all children once we all know how it was.) the best way to reduce the number of young people drinking them is to place a age restriction on them. on a personal opinion having the age limit me 18 is kind of high and may open a so called drug ring of energy drinks (sounds childish i know but is a variable,) so the age should be 16 or 17 which then gives the parents of said teen the freedom to teach them about the harm and effects of energy drinks, in turn the same can be done in schools.

    the restriction should purely look at energy drinks not all types of caffeine

  • daniel wake

    Caffiene free energy drinks are becoming common, so… why should they be banned?

Last Modified: March 27, 2015