Chapin couple continues push to raise purchasing age for energy drinks

If passed, House Bill 4352 would lead to fines for stores if they sell energy drinks to minors

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — Parents of a Chapin teen who died after officials say he drank too much caffeine, are fighting for a minimum age for kids to be able to purchase energy drinks.

When telling the House Rules Subcommittee about the harmful effects of energy drinks on teens, the parents of Davis Cripe say it only takes one energy drink to take the life of a perfectly healthy child.

Two years ago, Sean and Heidi Cripe received the call no parent should receive, hearing that their son had died after having an energy drink in school.

“That legal energy drink did not give my son energy. It killed him,” said Heidi Cripe when testifying in front of the House Rules Subcommittee. 

Since then, the Cripes have worked with lawmakers to keep their son’s legacy alive by making sure more kids don’t get their hands on energy drinks.

House Bill 4352 would lead to stores being fined fifty dollars if they sell energy drinks to those under the age of 18.

“It takes a while for people to be educated about dangers and that’s the hardest thing about these energy drinks is because they’re out there and anyone could buy them at any time. People assume they’re safe,” said Sean Cripe.

Executives with energy drink companies oppose the bill since they say the beverages shouldn’t be regulated like tobacco or alcohol.

“How many age-gated products are there in the United States? How many age-gated products are there in South Carolina? There aren’t that many, and there’s a reason why the legislature actually takes that step. It’s because those products at the end of the day are inherently unsafe, and energy drinks don’t cross that threshold,” said Joe Luppino, the Director of Public Affairs for Red Bull North America, in his testimony to legislators.

With pediatricians and cardiologists in their corner, the Cripes say they’re confident the bill will pick up steam in the House.

“They’ll start to look at those levels of caffeine and realize we are giving our kids something that’s too potent for them,” said Sean Cripe.

House Bill 4352 is co-sponsored by Rep. Leon Howard (D-Richland County) and Rep. Chip Huggins (R-Richland County).

The committee will reconvene in a couple of weeks to gather more thoughts from energy drink companies and those who lost a loved one as a result of those beverages. 

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