Illinois Energy Drink Ban Advances

Published in CSP Daily News

State representative seeks to protect teens, "take responsibility away" for retailers

By  Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor

Luis Arroyo

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- A proposal in Illinois to ban the sale of energy drinks to anyone younger than 18 years old will get a second reading before the State House this spring, making it the farthest any ban proposal has reached at the state level thus far.

House Bill 2379 would amend the Illinois Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act to provide "that it is unlawful … for any person to sell, offer for sale or deliver an energy drink to a person under 18 years of age." The bill, introduced by State Representative Luis Arroyo (D), "defines 'energy drink' as any soft drink with a caffeine level of 6 mg or more per ounce."

A 24-ounce can of Monster Energy, for example, contains 240 milligrams of caffeine, while Red Bull contains 83 mg per 8.4 ounces.

Since being introduced, five other state representatives have signed on as cosponsors, including first-term State Rep. Laura Fine (D), who previously introduced her own bill with similar limits.

"One of my sons brought it to my attention, saying that his friends are buying these drinks and [the drinks are] making them feel just awful," Fine told CSP Daily News in an exclusive interview about her motivation to suggest the sales limit. "I started doing some research on it and talking to medical professionals about the impact these drinks have on the bodies of children."

Fine feels the evidence overwhelmingly suggests "the chemicals" in energy drinks are harmful to children. Comparing them to cigarettes and alcohol, however, Fine said she is not pushing for a complete ban on the beverages, which accounted for nearly 25% of beverage dollar sales in convenience stores in 2012, according to Nielsen Co. data.

"I don't have a problem with somebody who can make that educated decision purchasing the product," she said. "But if they're under the age of 18, I think we need to protect them, just like we do with cigarettes, just like we do with alcohol."

Don't think Fine hasn't also thought about retailers. She feels she's also doing them a favor.

"I think a retailer would feel terrible if they sold these products to a child who had a severe physical reaction, and this would take that responsibility away."

The bill was backed by the Illinois House Human Services Committee earlier this month, advancing it to a second reading before the full House.

By Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor
View More Articles By Steve Holtz