Press Release
For Immediate Release
August 21, 2007
 
Contact: Robyn Ziegler
312-814-3118
877-844-5461 (TTY)
rziegler@atg.state.il.us
 

MADIGAN URGES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO CLAMP DOWN ON MISLEADING HEALTH STATEMENTS IN ADVERTISING FOR ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES CONTAINING CAFFEINE AND OTHER STIMULANTS

Chicago - Attorney General Lisa Madigan is urging the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to exercise its enforcement authority to stop the makers of alcoholic beverages from using misleading health-related statements in advertisements for products that contain caffeine and other stimulants.

Madigan and 29 other attorneys general sent a letter yesterday to TTB Administrator John Mandreda asking that the agency investigate the promotional claims made by all alcoholic energy drink manufacturers and take appropriate enforcement action against any manufacturers who make misleading health-related statements in their advertisements. The beverages that fall into this category of drinks include Sparks and Sparks Plus made by Miller Brewing Company, Anheuser-Busch's Bud Extra, and Liquid Charge and Liquid Core made by Charge Beverages.

In the letter, Madigan and the other attorneys general note that nonalcoholic energy drinks containing high levels of caffeine make up a rapidly growing segment of the beverage market and are especially popular with teens and young adults. The letter expresses the concern that alcoholic beverage manufacturers are attempting to take advantage of the youth appeal of energy drinks in general by engaging in aggressive marketing campaigns for alcoholic energy drinks.

Some of the more aggressive marketing campaigns include the claim that alcoholic energy drinks can increase a person's stamina or have an energizing effect. However, these ads do not mention the potentially severe and adverse consequences of mixing caffeine or other stimulants with alcohol. Additionally, researchers and public health specialists have found that the stimulants in alcoholic drinks may cause already intoxicated persons to falsely believe they can function normally while continuing to drink.

“We are very concerned that some companies are playing off the popularity of energy drinks in an effort to market alcoholic energy drinks to teens and young adults,” Madigan

said. “We are asking the TTB to comprehensively review all of the advertisements for these alcoholic energy drinks to make sure that the manufacturers are not making misleading claims designed to lure young people.”

Madigan and the other attorneys general are particularly concerned about the impact of alcoholic beverage advertisements on young people because, according to the TTB, alcohol abuse is the nation's number one problem among youth and is a leading cause of teen auto crashes, homicides and suicides. In addition, a recent U.S. Surgeon General report indicates that approximately 5,000 individuals under the age of 21 die each year from alcohol-related injuries. The report also indicates that alcohol contributes to other youth-related physical and psychological problems.

In the letter, Madigan and the other attorneys general also ask TTB to investigate whether alcoholic energy drinks and other flavored malt beverages are properly classified under federal law. In many states, the malt beverage classification enables cheaper and broader sales of these drinks, making them more readily available to young people than distilled spirits.

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