Selling Energy Drinks To Minors Under 18 Might Become Illegal

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)–  House Representatives are taking on energy drinks after a 16-year-old Midlands boy died because of too much caffeine. Representative Leon Howard said it is time to treat energy drinks like cigarettes or alcohol and regulate the age you have to be to purchase them. Davis Cripe died almost a year ago after consuming a variety of caffeinated drinks, including energy drinks, causing an overdose. The Richland county coroner said at the time of Cripe’s death, it was because of heart arrhythmia caused by the high amounts of caffeine.  

“It is a very heart wrenching situation to see a mother and a father who are so agreave about the loss of their son. I cannot imagine the pain they must be going through,” Howard said.  Although energy drinks are legal stimulants, the CDC said just one can increase blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. They say even though they are used to increase energy and alertness they can also cause, heart complications or failure, dehydration, anxiety, and insomnia.

“If a middle school student comes in and buys an energy drink, or two or three, I think that could be detrimental. I would hope someone over the age of 18 would understand and have the maturity level that they wouldn’t buy the energy drink or consume an enormous amount of the energy drink,”  Howard said. 

The bill would make it illegal to sell or distribute energy drinks to those under 18. Those charged would face a misdemeanor and a fine of $50 per violation. Energy drinks are defined as drinks with more than 80 milligrams of caffeine per 9 fluid ounce.

“It concerns me that any age can consume energy drinks. Like I said, you can have an elementary school kid 7 or 8 years old can go in and buy an energy drink. So there needs to be some kind of age limit as related to maturity and consumption,” Howard said. 

According to the CDC in 2011 almost 15-hundred young adults ages 12 to 17 went to the emergency room for an energy drink related emergency. Howard said there is not enough time for this bill to pass this session, but he wanted to get the conversation started so next year they can hit the ground running

“I understand people say anything can be dangerous if you consume too much of it. Water can be. We just want parents and guardians to be aware of the potential  danger of energy drinks and have the conversation with young people. And then next year, there’s a good possibility this could be law,” Howard said. 

Cripe’s parents will be meeting with representatives to discuss the legislation Wednesday.

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