HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. — Energy drink  manufacturers will no longer be permitted to market to minors in Suffolk County, N.Y., now that the nation’s first Energy Drink Education and Protection Plan has been signed by County Executive Steve Bellone.
In addition to prohibiting the advertising of stimulant drinks to minors, the measure bans their sale to minors in county parks. The plan also outlines a public education campaign to increase awareness of the side effects associated with stimulant drink consumption, according to its author, Suffolk County Legislator Dr. William Spencer.
“My goal is not to limit business, it’s not to have the government parent, it’s to have parents parent,” said Spencer, a pediatric ear, nose and throat doctor. “It crosses the line when you have [an energy drink] sample that’s labeled ‘not recommended for children,’ mailed directly to a minor.”
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The American Beverage Association, representing the non-alcoholic beverage industry, deems such oversight unnecessary since energy drink manufacturers, accounting for 95% of the market, voluntarily display total caffeine content on their packages along with an advisory statement indicating that the product is not intended (or recommended) for children.
The ABA says the plan is "misguided," and maintains that most energy drinks contain significantly less caffeine than a similarly sized coffeehouse coffee.
"We are disappointed that the legislation passed by the Suffolk County Legislature has now been made into law by the actions of the County Executive. The Legislature itself acknowledged that the bills were less about substance and more about sending a message. Public policy should be based of facts and science, and these Suffolk County laws are based on neither."
Several energy drink bills, ranging from one that would prohibit energy drink sales to those under 18 in Illinois to an outright ban on "highly caffeinated" stimulant drinks in Chicago, have been introduced.
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