NJ college places ban on boozy energy drinks

From the ABC News:

It's cheap, it comes in tall cans, and it contains caffeine, other common energy-drink ingredients — and as much alcohol as four beers.

After students at northern New Jersey's Ramapo College were hospitalized last month after drinking Four Loko, the college president ordered that it and similar drinks be banned — and he's encouraging other colleges and the state to follow suit.

Posted: 10/19/2010 1:08:00 PM

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'Energy' Drinks Spark Alarm

From The Washington Post:

Researchers are calling for warning labels and other steps to curb the abuse of those wildly popular high-caffeine "energy drinks."

Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University and 98 other experts sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration this week saying they had become increasingly alarmed about Red Bull and similar caffeine-laced beverages.

The researchers cited a paper Griffiths and his colleagues recently published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, which noted that Americans are already spending billions on such drinks annually. Hundreds of new products are being introduced each year and sales are increasing rapidly. The advertising campaigns tend to target teens and young adults, especially young males, and, Griffiths and his colleagues say, appear to glorify illicit drug use.

In addition to other ingredients, the products contain as much as 500 milligrams of caffeine per can or bottle. To put that into perspective, a regular 12-ounce can of cola has about 35 milligrams of caffeine and a six-ounce cup of coffee has between about 77 and 150 milligrams.

The researchers are worried about all sorts of problems. Too much caffeine can lead to "caffeine intoxication," which can cause nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, stomach problems and even rapid heartbeats and death in rare cases.

And that's not all. There's mounting evidence that young people who use these drinks are much more likely to go on to use prescription stimulants, raising concern they serve as a "gateway" to more serious drug abuse. There's even an energy drink additive called "Blow" which resembles cocaine powder and is sold in vials with a mirror and plastic cards, as well as another one called "Cocaine."

The researchers noted that Canada and many European countries require these drinks to carry labels warning about their high caffeine content and cautioning against mixing them with alcohol. Some ban certain products altogether.

In contrast, in the United States energy drinks are virtually unregulated. No labeling is required. They don't even have to list how much caffeine they contain, even though they may have a lot more than over-the-counter stimulants like NoDoz, which are required to carry warnings.

And from WalesOnline:

Its white powder lettering and deeply suggestive flavour titles seem designed to arouse suspicion. But it is the name of this new high-energy caffeine drink that is sending doctors, parents and anti-drug campaigners into a tailspin. Branded as the “legal alternative”, Cocaine has three-and-a-half times as much caffeine as Red Bull, and comes in three flavours – “regular”, “cut” and “free”.

American firm Redux, which is behind the drink, described the branding as “just a bit of fun”. But experts last night criticised the company as “cynical and irresponsible” and warned how it could glamorise the Class A drug.

The drink is currently only sold in the US, but is likely to be on its way to the UK.  The US version of the drink also contained wasabi and cinnamon, which numbed the throat to mimic the effect of taking cocaine for drinkers.

The Cocaine drink, due to be distributed in the UK by Netherlands-based Top Drinks, will take its place among a variety of drinks which have become popular in the UK as a quick energy boost or as an alcohol mixer.  A study found that men who combined energy drinks with alcohol felt alert and sober, even though they were actually drunk.  And since both alcohol and energy drinks dehydrate the body, when combined they can cause the body’s fluids to drop to dangerous levels.

The high caffeine content of energy drinks has worried health experts in the wake of damning reports of its negative long-term effects, particularly on young people, at who energy drinks are marketed. Cocaine has 250% more caffeine than market leader, Red Bull; the equivalent of seven cups of strong coffee. Red Bull has 80mg of caffeine in a 250ml can, whereas Cocaine has 280mg in a similarly sized can.

Posted: 10/9/2008 1:51:00 PM

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