A bill introduced last month in Maryland’s General Assembly would ban the marketing and sale of energy drinks to minors, which, in Maryland, is anyone under the age of 18.
If the bill becomes law, Maryland would be the first state with such a ban, CNBC reports. Delegate Kathleen Dumais, who submitted the bill, said, “The bill is modeled on existing legislation aimed at preventing tobacco marketing which targets minors.” For a first offense the penalty would be a fine of up to $5,000, with a $10,000 fine for a second offense and a $20,000 fine for a third offense.
The Maryland bill comes amid lawsuits against energy drink maker Monster Beverages. Four cases have been brought against the California-based company, including one involving the death of 14-year-old Anais Fournier, a Maryland girl who died allegedly as the result of drinking two 24-ounce cans of Monster, CBSNews/AP reports. An attorney involved in the Fournier case and the case of Alex Morris, a California teenager who died last year from a cardiac arrhythmia blamed on the energy drink, said, “Our allegations in the lawsuits are the same and that’s the peoples deaths were caused by these energy drinks and, more specifically, the defendants failure to warn about the dangers.”
In June 2013, the American Medical Association voted to adopt a policy supporting a ban of the marketing of energy drinks or shots to children and adolescents under 18. “Energy drinks contain massive and excessive amounts of caffeine that may lead to a host of health problems in young people, including heart problems, and banning companies from marketing these products to adolescents is a common sense action that we can take to protect the health of American kids,” AMA board member Dr. Alexander Ding said, according to CBSNews/AP. The New York Times reports that experts are concerned about what constitutes a safe level of caffeine for young consumers, whose size and metabolism are different from those of adults, and last year a group of doctors, researchers, and public health experts wrote to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to take action on energy drinks.