Friday, November 12, 2010

Rep. Klinker takes aim at high-alcohol energy drinks

Curt Slyder • Journal and Courier • November 12, 2010

State Rep. Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette, said Thursday she plans to file a bill that would restrict sales or marketing of high-alcohol content energy drinks.

Although details of such a bill have yet to be worked out, she said she'll file it in time for the upcoming session of the Indiana General Assembly, which starts in January.

Klinker said the thrust of the bill would be to limit the access of high-alcohol content energy drinks, particularly to young adults.

"Many times young people make bad decisions," she said. "Sometimes it can cost them their lives."

Klinker said she plans to talk with state legal experts and law enforcement officials for help in crafting such a bill.

According to Klinker, who recently won re-election to a 15th term, a story in Thursday's Journal & Courier helped spur her decision.

On Wednesday, the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers formally asked the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to take action in policing the sale and supplies of high-energy, high-alcohol content drinks.

The interim head of the commission, however, said banning such beverages is beyond its authority and that legislation likely would be required.

The head of the beverage retailers also called on members to voluntarily pull the product off their shelves. The association represents liquor stores but not grocery stores or other retailers.

As of Thursday, some liquor stores in Greater Lafayette were still carrying brands of the product while others had pulled it off their shelves.

Carol Casey, owner of Bar Barry Liquors, she pulled the drinks off her shelves on Wednesday.

"They certainly were a little scary to me," she said after hearing stories about the drinks in the news.

She said the drinks were selling well at her stores, "especially after all the attention they got." Bar Barry has six locations in Greater Lafayette, including one close to Purdue University.

Donna Lattanzio, general manager for the Village Bottle Shoppe on Sagamore Parkway in West Lafayette, said company officials did not want to comment on the issue. Village Bottle Shoppe has four locations, all in West Lafayette and two very close to campus.

The 24-ounce drinks combine alcohol with typical energy drink ingredients such as caffeine, taurine, guarana and sugar. With up to 12 percent alcohol, one can packs as much intoxicating punch as four beers, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Medical experts say the drinks are dangerous in part because they combine stimulants with depressants.

Anne Mahon, nutrition coordinator for the Purdue Student Wellness Office, said the beverages are a concern on several fronts: they are cheap, their sweetness masks their alcoholic content, and they give the drinker energy to consume more than he or she otherwise might.

Some studies have linked consumption of the beverages with risk-taking behavior at higher rates than other types of alcoholic drinks, she said.

"We want students to make mindful decisions," she said.

The Herald-Times in Bloomington reported Thursday that Big Red Liquors and Bloomington Liquors would not sell the beverages in response to the call for a voluntary ban.

Wade Shanower, president of Big Red Liquors, and Gene Laughman, owner of Bloomington Liquors, announced the decision Wednesday.

Regulators in Washington state banned such drinks Wednesday, citing the hospitalization of nine dangerously drunk college students last month. Similar bans are in Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma.

Contributing: The Associated Press

No comments:

Post a Comment