Energy Drink Ban Proposed for Teens on L.I.

Proposed ban would be the first of its kind in the nation

Anyone 19 or younger would be banned from buying non-alcoholic energy drinks under a proposed law now before the Suffolk County Legislature.

The proposed ban would be the first of its kind in the nation, according to bill sponsor, county legislator Lynne Nowick.

"These drinks can potentially be dangerous for teens," said Nowick.  "Why put foreign things in your body when you don't know what's going into them?  The drinks are not regulated."

Nowick's ban would target energy drinks with more than 80 milligrams of caffeine per serving, according to the legislation formally filed Tuesday.

Energy drinks can cause sleeplessness and high blood pressure in teens, argued a nutrition expert for Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Zahrine Bajwa works to educate local school districts about the alleged health risks of energy drinks.

"Would you give your child a cigarette?  No, because it's not good for them," said Bajwa.

"It's the same with these energy drinks because they are not good for your kids."

"Any proposed ban on energy drinks is without merit," read a statement from the American Beverage Association, a trade group representing the companies that manufacture and distribute energy drinks.

"Energy drinks contain about half the caffeine of a similar size cup of coffeehouse coffee," the statement added.

"To be consistent, coffeehouses would have to start carding customers before serving them coffee."

A Riverhead deli owner who sells about twenty energy drinks a day agreed.

"Government should leave us alone," said Duffy Griffiths.

"I am sure there are people who drink too many of them; but people also drink too much coffee."

The Suffolk legislature could vote on the proposed ban early next year.

Outside a coffee shop in Melville, adults voiced support for the ban.

"I am not a fan of sugary drinks but I would rather my kids drink those than these energy drinks," said Alan Bazer.

"There's a lot of things in those drinks that are not good you," added limo driver Susan Lozzi, who once used the energy drinks to stay awake, until, she said, she read the labels.

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