Bottles of energy drink, Monster, lie on display at a market March 6, 2006 in Des Plaines, Illinois. A new study reportedly links sugary sodas and drinks to the obesity epidemic.
Photographer: (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
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CLEVELAND - A Cleveland council member wants to take caffeinated energy drinks out of the hands of teens.
Councilman Kenneth Johnson introduced an ordinance at city council Monday night which would prohibit the sale of energy drinks like Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster Energy to anyone under the age of 18.
That includes keeping the drinks out of vending machines that minors could access.
“Many energy drinks contain 70 to 80 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving, which is three times the caffeine in cola drinks,” Johnson writes. He additionally calls the energy drinks, placed side-by-side with sodas and fruit juices, “unregulated.”
Last year, the FDA released results of an investigation which revealed that, since 2009, five people died and one had a non-fatal heart attack after drinking Monster Energy.
In 2011, a 14 year-old girl died after drinking two, 24-ounce Monster Energy drinks in 24 hours. An autopsy showed the girl went into cardiac arrest resulting from caffeine toxicity that blocked her heart’s ability to pump blood. The girl’s parents have sued the maker of the drink.
Despite the potential health risks, Cleveland-area teens say they're against the potential ban, especially because they've never experienced any problems with energy drinks.
"It keeps me up and active," said 18-year-old Cassandra Richard who started consuming energy drinks at the age of seven. The senior at Cleveland's Jane Addams Business Career added that she drinks up to three cans a day.
"There's a lot of us that drink it either in the morning or after school," said 17-year-old Cheyanne Burton who consumes at least one can a week. "I don't know what's so bad about teens drinking energy drinks," she added.
"I like the taste," said 17-year-old David Clayton. "I don't really need it for energy. I get enough sleep at night." Clayton said he drinks about three cans a week.
If City Council were to outlaw the sale of energy drinks to minors, the teens said it likely wouldn't stop them from consuming the beverages. Instead, they they'd be inclined to ask adults to purchase the drinks for them.
"I'm sure there's a lot of people that are going to get around it," said Sam Khatib, manager at Amy's Beverage & Deli on Payne Avenue in Cleveland.
Khatib sells a variety of energy drinks in his store, but he said a ban wouldn't hurt his business.
"Our energy drink is not the main seller," said Khatib who added that he supports the move. "If it poses some kind of health issue, there's nothing wrong with it [the ban]."
Shoppers at Dave's Market on Payne Avenue had mixed feelings about the proposal.
"That's a waste of time," said shopper Bennie Richardson. "There's a lot of other things that they [City Council] could be dealing with like jobs."
Others said they supported the ban if education were a component of it.
"Parents really need to know what's in the product so they can make a decision for their children," said shopper Synita Brazil. "I think it's worth the conversation because this may be a milestone that's needed and necessary."
Section 635.02 of the ordinance defines an energy drink as:
“ A canned or bottled beverage (1) that either (A) contains an amount of caffeine exceeding or equal to 140 milligrams per 4 fluid ounce or larger container, or (B) contains an amount of caffeine exceeding or equal to 80 milligrams per 0.8 fluid ounce to 3 fluid ounce container; and (2) that contains Taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) or Guarana.”
Under the proposed legislation, distribution of the drinks to minors would result in a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
The ordinance will need a two-thirds majority approval from council and approval from the mayor.
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