Advocates, Sen. Steans Push Content Warning Labels on Alcoholic Energy Drinks

(Chicago, IL) — Advocates from the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA) and State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), (below), pushed their legislative plan, Senate Bill 2472, at a press conference on March 24 to require warning labels on alcoholic energy drinks, such as Sparks, Tilt, and Bud Extra.

“Miller Brewing and Anheuser-Busch are producing drinks whose packaging is indistinguishable from their nonalcoholic, teen-focused energy beverages,” said IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

Alcoholic energy drinks, with brand names like Sparks, Tilt, and Bud Extra, contain not only alcohol but also caffeine and other stimulants.

Moscato Howe cited the Tilt brand as a typical example of packaging that obscures alcohol content. Tilt packages its alcoholic energy drinks in a brightly colored and youthfully designed container that resemble nonalcoholic energy drinks (right). Additionally, the Tilt container displays the alcohol content in fine print.

“The Tilt container—the size, shape, hip graphics, and bright colors—is similar to nonalcoholic energy drinks and displays its alcohol content in small print on the container that can confuse store clerks, parents and police alike,” said Moscato Howe. “Our legislation mandates clear warning alcohol content labels.”

Sen. Steans and IADDA have a powerful ally on the issue–Illinois Attorney Lisa Madigan. A few weeks ago, Madigan told the Springfield State Journal-Register that the alcoholic energy drinks should be banned altogether. Additionally, Madigan joined 30 Attorneys General in a joint letter in August 2007 to the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau expressing “serious concern” on the drinks’ marketing practices.

State Sens. Mattie Hunter, Maggie Crotty, Lou Viverito, Christine Radogno, Jacqueline Collins, Susan Garrett and Iris Martinez have joined as legislative co-sponsors.

Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association Board Chair, Alan Sandusky, speaks at Steans’ press conference.

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