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Energy Drinks

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Alcoholic Energy Drinks and Teens Don't Mix

Do you know what your child is drinking? You may want to take a second glance because looks can be deceiving.

Telling the difference between energy drinks is not as easy as you might think. The eye-catching, bright-colored cans can be very appealing, especially to youth. But beware - some energy drinks contain alcohol.

"ABC wants to let parents know how to differentiate between alcoholic energy drinks and energy drinks without alcohol," said Joe Cannon, ABC special agent in charge for compliance and education. "An energy drink that contains alcohol will list the alcohol content on the back of the can while an energy drink without alcohol lists the nutritional facts."

NONALCOHOLIC DRINKS list "nutrition facts" on the can or bottle.

Can with Nutrition Facts

ALCOHOLIC DRINKS specify alcohol content and have a warning on the can or bottle.

Can with Government Warning

Did you know alcoholic energy drinks have higher alcohol content than a beer or glass of wine? "Alcoholic energy drinks often contain double or triple the amount of alcohol as a typical beer," said Cannon.

Alcohol mixed with caffeine and other stimulants often leads to a heavily charged central nervous system. And while you must be at least 21 to purchase an alcoholic energy drink, make no mistake - these drinks are marketed to a young clientele.

A Time magazine article (May 2008) explains, "Alcoholic energy drinks have a pull on the youth market: the promise that you can get drunk but still party all night because of the caffeine."

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a news release announcing its investigation into the safety and legality of alcoholic energy drinks. To view the release, visit: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/ucm190366.htm

In addition, consider:
  • According to the American Medical Association, alcohol takes a greater toll on the brain development of adolescents than any other age demographic.
  • 2007 statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism claim approximately 5,000 people under 21 years old die from underage drinking each year.

"Alcohol education is an important component of the health curriculum in many of Virginia's schools," said Cannon. "We believe it is essential for parents to talk with their children about the dangers of consuming alcohol underage."

If your children are reaching the age where you think they could be exposed to alcohol, it may be the right opportunity to talk with them about the dangers of underage drinking.

To order an alcoholic energy drink poster or information about any of ABC's educational initiatives, please visit the education section of ABC's website or contact our Education section at (804) 213-4593.

Download Energy Drinks Poster (PDF file size 496 KB) - Help with Downloads

Order Energy Drinks Posters from ABC's Education section.

Underage Purchase, Possession or Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages:

  • It is illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase, possess or consume any alcoholic beverage.
  • Violators of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and, upon conviction, can lose their driver's license for up to one year and face a minimum fine of $500 or a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service and a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. Code of Virginia 4.1-305

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