Bad news for Long Island high schoolers trying to stay up all night
writing a paper on The Sound and the Fury playing Call of Duty, but good news for makers of fake IDs: officials in Suffolk County are moving towards banning energy drinks for anyone under 19.
Legislation mandating an energy drink purchase age was proposed a few years ago, and has since been voted on by the Suffolk County Board of Health. Caffeine-packed drinks like Monster and 5-Hour-Energy have been getting some bad press of late, with the latter being cited in 13 death reports since 2009. These drinks are considered dietary supplements, and don't have to disclose how much caffeine they contain (a two-ounce shot of 5-Hour-Energy has about as much caffeine as two cups of coffee).
"If a young person is in a strenuous activity, caffeine intoxication can lead to cardiac arrhythmia," William Spender, a doctor and Suffolk County legislator who might sponsor the bill, told CBS News. And it's not just caffeine that might cause those tiny teenage hearts to stop—the county's health commissioner, James Tomarken, says added stimulants like sugar make the effects of the caffeine that much worse.
Unsurprisingly, the sugared-drink-loving American Beverage Association says there's no need to ban energy drinks for teens, and the companies that make the drinks say such a ban would also require a minimum purchase age for coffee and tea to be consistent. In 2010, alcoholic energy drink/everybody's favorite can of blackout Four Loko was banned in New York and subsequently revamped without the caffeine after the FDA said its combination of caffeine and alcohol was dangerous.