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Directions in Highway Safety, Summer 2008 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
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Summer 2008 | Vol. 10 | No. 4

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Anheuser-Busch to Discontinue All Alcoholic Energy Drinks

Anheuser-Busch will remove the caffeine, guarana and ginseng from its malt beverages and is calling on its competitors to also cease selling pre-packaged caffeinated alcoholic beverages. The move comes as part of agreements with the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and a group of 11 state Attorneys General that has been investigating Anheuser- Busch.

CSPI and the Attorneys General have been concerned about alcoholic energy drinks that taste and look like popular nonalcoholic energy drinks. Derided as "amped-up alcopops," these drinks are frequently marketed to younger audiences who often form the incorrect belief that the caffeine in the drinks will counteract the intoxicating impact of the alcohol. These beliefs are aided by aggressive marketing campaigns that promise endless nights of fun and enhanced abilities.

Beer bottles

"Alcohol mixed with high amounts of caffeine is a recipe for disaster, particularly in the hands of young people," said Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe, Chair of the National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee. "The caffeine gives drinkers the subjective belief that they can function normally. This false belief results in the potential for increased serious harm. This agreement is a monumental win for our nation's young people who are lured by marketing into believing these products are safe."

The Attorneys General emphasized that young people aren't drinking just one or two of these alcoholic energy drinks-these products are intended to be consumed several times throughout a night of partying and to be used as a mixer for other alcoholic beverages. A recently published study by Dr. Mary Claire O'Brien of Wake Forest University found that college students who mix alcohol and energy drinks engage in increased heavy episodic drinking and have twice as many episodes of weekly drunkenness. College students who reported consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks also had significantly higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences, such as sexual assault and injury.