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The Scoop

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Verbatim: Retailers seek Indiana ban on alcohol energy drinks

Statement issued Wednesday:

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers (IABR) is asking the state to take action in banning a potentially dangerous product that is being sold by retailers across Indiana.

Today, executives of IABR asked the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC) to take steps to ensure that retailers no longer sell alcohol-laced caffeine drinks – and are asking its members to take the first step in pulling the product from shelves.

“Several states, and the federal government, have taken steps to investigate these potentially harmful products – or approved outright bans on sales,” said Gary Gardner, operations manager for Belmont Beverage and also a board member of IABR.

“Pending an outcome of a review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, we’re asking our package store members to take the lead and voluntarily stop selling these drinks,” Gardner said.

The percentage of alcohol in the popular drinks varies from 6 percent to as much as much as 12 percent alcohol, or the equivalent of four beers.

Nicknamed “Blackout in a Can” by college-age consumers, the high-alcohol, high-caffeine energy drinks are under increasing scrutiny by state attorneys general, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and now state regulatory boards that govern alcohol sales in various states.

In the past week alone, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and New York regulatory agencies have taken steps to enact product bans, moratoriums on sales of the product, asking for new state laws, and more. Several colleges and universities have also banned the drinks from their campuses.

“In Indiana, we’re asking the state to step in as well,” said John Livengood, president and CEO of the statewide association that represents the interests of 1,000 Hoosier-owned package stores. Livengood said the ATC has broad discretionary authority to follow in the footsteps of other state regulatory agencies.

Much of the concern over these type of drinks was sparked after a national incident in Central Washington when several young women passed out at an off-campus party and had to be hospitalized after drinking a beverage identified under the brand Four Loko.

Medical authorities have said that the drinks are dangerous because they contain stimulants as well as depressants. When caffeine blocks the effect of the alcohol content, it can easily be overconsumed.

According to regulators, a typical alcohol energy drink is 24 ounces and has a 12-percent alcohol content—about the equivalent of drinking four, 12-ounce beers at once. The drinks also range in cost from $2-$5 a can, making them a cheap and accessible beverage for college students.

In September, IABR also was the first retail association in Indiana to ask its members statewide for a voluntarily recall of an herbal item known as Spice or K2. The compound sold under various trade names is reported to be 10 times more powerful than marijuana, but is currently legal.

About the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers

The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers is a statewide membership group for package store owners licensed and regulated by the state of Indiana. Founded in 1936, the association’s mission is to protect, promote and improve the package store industry in Indiana. The association is also a partner with Project RAD (Responsible Alcohol Distribution).

About Project RAD

Project RAD stands for Project Responsible Alcohol Distribution in Indiana. The group’s state partners include the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking, Drug-Free Coalition of Tippecanoe County, CHANCES for Indiana Youth in Vigo County, Drug Free Marion County and the Monroe County Asset Building Coalition. Founded in 2002, the mission of Project RAD is to encourage responsible handling and distribution of alcohol in Indiana. For more information visit: www.projectRAD.com

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