Move Against Alcoholic Energy Drinks Gaining Traction!

August 28, 2007

Alcoholic Energy Drinks(AP) Beverage companies that sell alcoholic energy drinks were harshly criticized Tuesday by more than two dozen state attorneys general who want federal officials to examine the ingredients and marketing of the drinks they say are aimed at underage customers.

In a letter to John Manfreda, the administrator of the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the attorneys general of 28 states and Washington, D.C., and Guam say aggressive — and possibly fraudulent — marketing of energy drinks mixing alcohol and caffeine targets teenagers and young adults who buy nonalcoholic energy drinks.

“Nonalcoholic energy drinks are very popular with today’s youth,” Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers said. “Beverage companies are unconscionably appealing to young drinkers with claims about the stimulating properties of alcoholic energy drinks.”

The attorneys general singled out Miller Brewing Co. for Sparks and Sparks Plus, Anheuser-Busch for Bud Extra and Charge Beverages of Portland for its Liquid Charge and Liquid Core drinks.

Anheuser-Busch vice president Francine Katz said the attorneys general should focus on restricting youth access to alcohol, particularly hard liquor products that can have 10 times the alcohol by volume as malt beverages. The federal government already approved the Bud Extra labeling, she said.

“This product is simply a malt beverage that contains caffeine, and is clearly marked as containing alcohol,” Katz said. “In fact, Bud Extra has less caffeine than a 12-ounce Starbucks coffee.”

The attorneys general are not so sure about the drinks’ ingredients. They requested a federal investigation into the makeup of alcoholic energy drinks and other flavored malt beverages to determine whether, based on the percentage of distilled spirits contained in the drinks, they are properly classified as malt beverages under federal law. The malt beverage classification, in many states, enables cheaper and broader sale of these drinks, making them more readily available to young people than distilled spirits.

Julian Green, spokesman for Miller Brewing Co., said Sparks was created only for customers who are of legal drinking age.

“There is no nonalcoholic version of Sparks. We work closely with the Trade and Tax Bureau to ensure that all of our products meet federal regulatory requirements,” he said.

Calls were placed to Charge Beverages in Portland, Ore.

The attorneys general said several advertisements make misleading health-related claims such as increasing stamina and energy. They said the companies’ marketing warrants investigation and possible enforcement action by TTB.

“Combining alcohol with caffeine hardly seems healthy and that false claim is what we seek to halt,” Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.

Liquid Charge’s Web site displays a video of a nuclear power plant’s cooling tower collapsing and being replaced by a can of Liquid Charge. The ad calls the drink a “new power source for the 21st century.”

A report by the San Rafael, Calif.-based Marin Institute, which describes itself as an alcohol industry watchdog group, said 500 new energy drink products were introduced worldwide last year. Michele Simon, research and policy director of the group, said about 20 brands are alcoholic drinks and have come on the market in the last 10 years.

In addition to Oregon and Connecticut, states involved in the action are Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
© MMVII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Register Now for “A Conversation with the Media”!

August 21, 2007

Get ready for a special event already attracting lots of attention, and people are registering in droves.

It’s a unique opportunity that awaits you thanks to the Oregon Partnership Training and Community Education Resource Center!  “A Conversation with the Media” will include what you need to know about the changing roles of the media and how it affects your non-profit, organization or business.

Portland’s top media professionals will be on hand to offer their words of wisdom.

It’s happening October 4th from 10 a.m. – noon at Montgomery Park.  Click below for details.

Be there!

Click here to download the training flyer.

Scary Enough For Ya? Alcoholic Energy Drinks

August 10, 2007

Just back from Orlando and the annual underage drinking conference sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.   Oregon Partnership conducted three well-attended workshops on how to use the media in helping getting messages across, moving policy, and creating action to cut down on underage drinking.   

And we learned a lot.  The biggest surprise was hearing about the newest challenge to anybody who despises how the alcohol industry markets to teens.

Get ready for energy drinks that contain alcohol.  Combine that with major amounts of caffaine and sugar, and folks, you’ve got a dangerous combination. 

If you haven’t heard about Rockstar 21, Sparks, and Tilt, you will. 

 They’re even marketing these products as ways to “party all night.” On the Tilt and Bud Extra websites ( Anheuser-Busch products) they say “Move from party to after-party,” “Get your second wind,” and “Who’s up for staying out all night?”

Energy drinks are popular with teens, and gaining in popularity.  And it’s obvious to the California-based Marin Institute – which released in Orlando an exhaustive report on alcoholic energy drinks – that the alcohol industry is targeting teens and young drinkers.

The public health ramifications are huge.  So now, we’ll have more young people drinking alcoholic beverages that will keep them drinking longer as a result of the addition of caffaine and sugar.

The Marin Institute is recommending that the producers of  energy drinks containing alcohol take them off the market, that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducts research on the health and safety of energy drinks and that the Federal Trade Commission investigates  energy drink producers’ marketing practices.

We’re going to be hearing a lot more about all this.  OP plans to get out the word locally and nationally.