Proposed Chicago Ordinance Would Outlaw Energy Drinks

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Ald. Ed Burke has proposed a citywide ban of so-called energy drinks, citing potential health risks with the highly caffeinated beverages.

The powerful City Council veteran’s plan, filed Thursday with the city clerk, would create fines starting at $100 for anyone who sells or distributes energy drinks such as Red Bull, Rockstar, Full Throttle, Monster and 5-Hour Energy.

“Researchers found that these energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and warned of dangerous, even life threatening, effects on blood pressure, heart rate and brain function,” language in the proposed ordinance says.

In an interview with CBS 2’s Brad Edwards, Burke said Chicago would become the first city in the nation to ban energy drinks. He dismissed any criticisms that the ordinance would be overreaching.

“I heard it 20 years ago, when I introduced the first ordinance to ban smoking in Chicago,” Burke said. “I heard the argument that you shouldn’t regulate peoples’ conduct. Well, now we have a smoke-free environment here.”

“The public’s health is getting better because of the smoking ban,” he added.

The energy-drink ban would apply to adults as well as minors. The ordinance defines energy drink as a bottled or canned beverage that contains more than 180 mg of caffeine and containing Taurine or Guarana.

The council’s Committee on Health and Environmental Protection will consider the measure.

Burke, who represents the 14th Ward, said he’d at least like to have a public conversation about the health effects of energy drinks and the way they are marketed toward young people.

There were 20,000 emergency room admissions linked to consumption of energy drinks in 2011, Burke said, citing a federal study.

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