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Lincoln City Council Bans Ephedra Sales

Stimulant won't be sold to kids in town where football player died

Mar 19, 2003 | AP

The City Council in this community where a high school athlete died after taking ephedra has voted to ban the sale of the stimulant to young people.

The new ordinance is believed to be the first of its kind in Illinois, said City Clerk Juanita Josserand. She said the city intended to be first "because we personally lost one of our young football players to ephedra."

The unanimous vote taken Monday creates an ordinance that bans the sale of any product containing ephedra to anyone under the age of 18. It also requires stores to keep the products out of the reach of customers. First-time violators of the ordinance could be fined up to $400 and up to $750 for subsequent violations.

"It's a good first step," said Kevin Riggins, whose 16-year-old son, Sean, died of heart failure last September after taking an over-the-counter energy supplement that contained ephedra. "People are behind this. The word's getting out."

Riggins, who recommended the ordinance, is lobbying for state and federal ephedra bans. Lincoln Mayor Elizabeth Davis said she hopes other communities will adopt similar ordinances.

"This is focusing on the youth," she said. "That's where the real problem is."

Ephedra has come under increased scrutiny across the country, particularly since last month's death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler. Last week a coroner blamed ephedra for contributing to the heatstroke death of Bechler.

The Food and Drug Administration says at least 100 deaths have been linked to ephedra, but it remains available without a prescription in diet supplements.

The Bush administration has said that every bottle of ephedra must soon carry warnings that the herb can cause heart attacks, strokes or death.

Earlier this month in Suffolk County, N.Y., the sale of all dietary supplements containing ephedra was banned under legislation described as the first of its kind in the country.

And in Illinois, State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, has predicted a state ban on all non-medical use of ephedra will be approved by the House and the Senate this spring.

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