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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Shanetta J. Paskel, 410-576-7939
spaskel@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Gansler Calls Upon MillerCoors to Cancel Plans for
Newest Alcoholic Energy Drink Sparks Red

BALTIMORE, MD (September 17, 2008) – Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that 25 states, including Maryland, have urged alcohol beverage manufacturer MillerCoors, LLC to reconsider its plans and refrain from introducing Sparks Red, a pre-mixed alcoholic energy drink (“AED”), to the marketplace. Sparks Red will contain as much as eight percent (8%) alcohol, a significant increase over the alcohol content in other AEDs.

“AEDs are amped up alcopops that taste and look like popular non-alcoholic energy drinks. Similar to alcopops, AEDs are popular with young people who often incorrectly belive that the caffeine in the drinks will counteract the intoxicating affects of the alcohol,” said Attorney General Gansler, a member of the National Association of Attorneys General’s Youth Access to Alcohol Committee. “MillerCoors’ decision to serve up a new alcohol energy drink, with even more alcohol per serving than its current offerings, is simply a bad idea no matter how you look at it.”

Attorney General Gansler’s letter to MillersCoors emphasized the increasing evidence from medical and public health professionals about the dangers of mixing alcohol with caffeine and other stimulants found in energy drinks. The letter also cited a study recently published by Dr. Mary Claire O’Brien of Wake Forest University which found that college students who mixed alcohol and energy drinks were more likely to engage in increased heavy episodic drinking and have twice as many episodes of weekly drunkenness.

In June 2008, Attorney General Gansler, along with ten other Attorneys General, reached a settlement with Anheuser-Busch in which Anheuser-Busch agreed to reformulate its two AED’s, Bud Extra and Tilt. The Attorneys General alleged that Anheuser-Busch made express and implied false or misleading health-related statements about the energizing effects of Tilt and Bud Extra. While Anheuser-Busch denied the claims, it cooperated and promptly decided to reformulate Tilt and Bud Extra without caffeine or other stimulants, and agreed not to produce any other caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future.

   

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