Substance Abuse Treatment Advocates Praise Illinois Senate Panel Vote to Ban Alcoholic Energy Drinks

(Springfield, IL) — February 10, 2011.  An Illinois state senate panel yesterday approved a measure that would ban the manufacture and sale of alcoholic energy drinks in Illinois, drawing praise from the state’s top substance abuse advocacy group.

State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago)

Some parents and schools blame the drinks for a number of young people needing medical care and a handful of deaths.

“Alcoholic energy drinks are a menace to youth in Illinois. Manufacturers market these drinks to young people and convey the false impression that caffeine-laced alcohol counteracts the physical impairment of drinking,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “The Senate took an important step to protect lives of Illinois youth and others.”

The Senate Executive Committee approved the legislation, sponsored by State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), Senate Bill 50, 11-0.

Illinois is the latest state to propose a ban on the drinks, such as the infamous Four Loko. The drink is described as having the caffeine punch of an energy drink and the alcohol impact of a bottle of malt liquor.

“These drinks create a false sense of security and actually encourage youth to drink more,” said Moscato Howe. “Alcohol energy drinks are a public health hazard.”

Four Loko is an Illinois-based company. The FDA is investigating the drinks and the state of Washington has already banned it. The company itself has voluntarily removed caffeine from the drink.

The legislation covers only the manufactured drinks that are sold in single serve cans.

Moscato Howe notes that popular cocktails such as vodka and the energy drink Red Bull are still served in bars across the state.

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