Oregon Partnership and other advocacy groups around the country are claiming victory following today’s decision by MillerCoors LLC to stop marketing caffeine-spiked alcoholic beverages.
The decision was in response to an investigation by state attorneys general about the detrimental health effects of the beverages and the aggressive marketing of the products targeting underage drinkers.
MillerCoors says it will reformulate its to-selling Sparks brand with a modified version that does not contain caffeine, taurine, guarana and ginseng, effective January 10, 2009. The company will also pay $550,000 for the cost of the investigation.
“We’re thrilled that MillerCoors finally got the message that they were dealing with a public health hazard,” said Pete Schulberg, Communications Director for Oregon Partnership. “High caffeine with high alcohol content and the fact that these products are marketing to young people makes for a dangerous combination.”
Last June, Anheuser-Busch, the largest beer maker in the U.S., agreed to stop manufacturing caffeinated versions of Bud Extra and Tilt.
The alcohol content of Miller Lite beer is 4.2 percent compared to an alcohol content of 8 percent in Sparks.
Two years ago, Oregon Partnership helped lead the successful charge against Spykes, an Anheuser-Busch energy drink sold in two-ounce, multi-colored bottles containing 12 percent alcohol. Anheuser-Busch eventually pulled the product from the market.
Later, the California-based Marin Institute, an alcohol industry watchdog group, released the most comprehensive report yet on alcoholic energy drinks.
“The available research suggests that alcoholic energy drinks create a dangerous mix,” the report states. “Yet the alcohol industry markets the beverages with messages that fail to alert users to the potential for misjudging one’s intoxication. Indeed, these messages irresponsibly suggest the beverages will enhance alertness and energy.”
The companies market these products as ways to “party all night.” On the Tilt and Bud Extra websites, they say “Move from party to after-party,” “Get your second wind,” and “Who’s up for staying out all night.”
The Marin Institute, along with Oregon Partnership, recommend that the producers of alcoholic 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.
About Oregon Partnership:
Oregon Partnership is a statewide nonprofit that has worked to promote healthy kids and communities for well over a decade by raising awareness about drug and alcohol issues, providing prevention education in classrooms, and 24-hour crisis lines for people needing help. To learn more, visit www.orpartnership.org.