It could be closing time for alcoholic energy drinks in Texas: The House passed a ban today on malt liquor drinks that contain caffeine, ginseng, taurine or guarana. The bill prohibits the sale, manufacture, import and possession of alcoholic energy drinks, like the infamous Four Loko.
Four Loko is marketed to children and contains the equivalent of five beers and three coffees, said Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, author of the bill. The "FDA does not have the authority to completely ban these beverages,” Alvarado said. Her intention is to stop "the deaths and tragedies that occurred with kids" who were drinking the beverages.
The punch from the House isn’t the first assault on caffeinated alcoholic beverages. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration released a report warning alcoholic energy drink manufacturers that their products were unsafe and should be taken off the shelves. Most manufacturers, including Four Loko, have since removed caffeine and other energy-inducing ingredients from their alcoholic malt beverages.
The energy-alcohol mix induces a “wide awake drunk” state, which leads to increased rates of drunk driving, sexual assault and alcohol poisoning, say supporters of the bill. And the drinks have contributed to some teenager deaths in Texas.
“Banning certain beverages would not stop people from making bad choices,” say opponents of the bill, according to a report from the House Research Organization. Opponents also worry the wording of the bill will ban other over-the-bar favorites with caffeine, such as Red Bull and vodka, and rum and Coke.
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.