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Will MD Ban The Sale of Energy Drinks to Minors?

Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Feb 04, 2014 in Energy Drinks

Our law firm is proud to be on the front lines of an effort to save lives in Maryland. In addition to representing those seriously injured or killed as a result of consuming energy drinks, we support a new law that will ban the sale and marketing of energy drinks in the State of Maryland. If passed, Maryland would be the first State in the USA to have such a ban.

You may ask----Why do we need this ban? And you may think ----I don't need the State telling me and my family what food to eat.

Let me address that. I kinda get that when it comes to adults....but when corporations market a dangerous product directly to our children I believe that the government needs to step in and help protect our kids.

The problem with energy drinks is that many energy drink companies direct their marketing at those most vulnerable to their harmful effects--- our children, teenagers and adolescents. Anyone with an underlying heart condition (diagnosed or undiagnosed) should never consume energy drinks (yet the cans generally don't provide this warning).  The warning labels on these drinks do not adequately warn the public of the dangers of energy drink consumption. We are extremely concerned that many energy drink companies may not have tested their product on teens before marketing to them; and are making billions of dollars per year using our kids as guinea pigs.

The marketing campaigns used are reminiscent of the "Joe Camel" campaigns used by the tobacco companies in the 80's and early 90's. For example the Monster (via a company called HookIt) has a "Monster Army" that, as far as I can tell, allows membership for kids as young as 13 years old. This, despite the fact that the warning label on cans of Monster says "Not Recommended For Children." I find this disgusting--especially in light of the evidence that it can be dangerous for kids to consume energy drinks (see below).

The evidence is mounting that energy drinks are dangerous and can kill:

(1) Many Adverse Event Reports have been filed with the FDA that possibly relate deaths and severe life threatening illnesses to the consumption of energy drinks.

(2) The American Academy of Pediatrics has indicated that children should never consume energy drinks; and suggests that consumption may put some children at risk for serious adverse health effects.

(3) The American Medical Association supports the ban on the marketing of energy drinks to children under 18. AMA board member Alexander Ding, MD has said

Energy Drinks contain massive and excessive amounts of caffeine that may lead to a host of health problems in young people, including heart problems, and banning companies from marketing these products to adolescents is a common sense action that we can take to protect the health of American Kids.

(4) Emergency Room Visits involving energy drinks doubled from 10,068 visits in 2007 to 20,783 visits in 2011. See SAMHSA DAWN REPORT Jan. 10, 2013.

(5) 18 Doctors and Scientists wrote a letter to the FDA on March 19, 2013 stating that:

We conclude that there is no general consensus among qualified experts that the addition of caffeine in amounts used in energy drinks is safe....particularly for vulnerable populations such as children and adolescents. On the contrary, there is evidence in the published scientific literature that the caffeine levels in energy drinks pose serious potential health risks, including risk for serious injury or even death. We therefore urge the FDA to take prompt action to protect children and adolescents from the dangers of highly caffeinated energy drinks..."

(6) "Energy Drinks May Increase Blood Pressure, Disturb Heart Rhythm, American Heart Association Meeting Report", March 21, 2013

(7) A study shows that young children comprise half the cases reported for energy drink toxicity to U.S. National Poison Control Centers Database.

(8) A study presented at the Radiological Society of North American apparently shows that healthy people who drank energy drinks with caffeine and taurine experienced significantly increased heart contraction rates an hour later. Dr. Kim Williams, the VP of the American College of Cardiology said "The study raises concerns that energy drinks might be bad for the heart, particularly for people who already have heart disease."

I actually could keep going...but I have some work to do this morning.

The FDA and our Federal Legislatures say they are looking into the issue, but they are dragging their feet (The exceptions are Senator Blumenthal, Senator Durbin, and Congressman Markey, who held a Senate Hearing on the issue in July 2013); and issued a Report on April 10, 2013 outlining their concerns titled "What's All the Buzz About?"

Conclusion

Since the energy drink companies are not providing adequate warnings about the potential dangers of their products, we will be the messengers. Bottom Line-----Don't let your kids drink energy drinks! If your child has underlying heart issues, or takes stimulants for asthma or ADHD your children are likely especially at risk. If you don't believe us, discuss this issue with your pediatrician.

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