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California Moves To Ban Caffeinated Alcohol Drinks

SACRAMENTO—The California State Assembly voted 49 to 26 on July 11 to pass legislation banning an the import, production, distribution or retail sale of caffeinated alcohol drinks. The bill now faces a procedural concurrence vote in the Senate before being sent to Gov. Brown for his consideration.

Introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), SB 39 is similar to legislation in six other states that have banned caffeine alcohol drinks after numerous reports of alcohol poisoning and blackouts among college students nationwide.

“SB 39 will help protect California’s youth. Caffeinated beer beverages are marketed to youth and are a threat to public health.  The added caffeine masks the effects of the high alcohol content, which can lead to binge drinking and dangerous behavior," Padilla said. “With the passage of SB 39, California will join Massachusetts, New York, Washington, Utah, Michigan, and Kansas in banning these dangerous drinks," Padilla said.

Caffeinated alcoholic drinks have drawn attention due to a series of incidents involving underage drinkers. At Central Washington University nine freshmen students between the ages of 17 and 19 were hospitalized after drinking Four Loko at a party. New Jersey’s Ramapo College banned the drink after 23 students were hospitalized. A number of students were hospitalized at St Joseph’s College in Philadelphia after drinking Four Loko.

Experts have raised concerns that caffeine can mask some of the sensory cues individuals might normally rely on to determine their level of intoxication. FDA said peer-reviewed studies suggest that the consumption of beverages containing added caffeine and alcohol is associated with risky behaviors that may lead to hazardous and life-threatening situations. In fact, a study published Nov. 30 in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggested substantial increase in the consumption of CABs among young adults has emerged as a public health problem.

This past May, a family of a Virginia teenager who reportedly died after drinking two cans of a caffeinated alcohol drink has filed a wrongful death suit against Phusion Projects, the makers of Four Loko, in an Illinois court claiming the company "was careless and negligent in formulating a caffeinated, alcoholic beverage that desensitizes users to the symptoms of intoxication, and increases the potential for alcohol-related harm."


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