Albany – Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz, Chair of the Assembly Mental Health Committee, introduced legislation banning the sale of alcoholic energy drinks (AEDs), also known as caffeinated alcoholic beverages during the 2010 legislative session. While Ortiz was pleased to learn that one brand, “Four Loko,” manufactured by Phusion Projects, has agreed to halt shipments of their alcoholic energy drinks to New York State, he does not believe this will solve the larger issue at hand. “Four Loko isn’t the only alcoholic energy drink on the market in New York State. I will not rest until we ban ALL alcoholic energy drinks in our State,” said Ortiz. AEDs, are a class of alcoholic beverages to which caffeine and other stimulants, such as guarana, are added. The Assemblyman recognizes that the combination of caffeine and alcohol present in all AEDs poses a serious public health risk. “Banning one of the many brands of these beverages does not solve the problem we currently have,” stated Ortiz.
Several recent scientific studies revealed that stimulants such as caffeine appear to mask the intoxicating effects of alcohol, which may lead to increased risk-taking and other serious alcohol-related problems such as traffic accidents, violence, sexual assault, and suicide. Currently, there is no consensus that the use of caffeine in alcohol is safe, and caffeine as an additive to alcohol has not been deemed Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA.
“There is no doubt in my mind that these alcohol-energy drinks are harmful to our children. These beverages mask the level of intoxication to consumers that could lead them to high-risk behavior like drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, and violent behavior,” Ortiz stated. He hopes his legislation calling for a complete ban of these beverages will be passed during the coming 2011 session. “As long as these drinks are still on the market, there will be people out there getting hurt. We should act quickly to stop the sales of all brands of these beverages to ensure a safe and healthy living environment for our citizens,” Ortiz continued.