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Directions in Highway Safety, Fall 2008 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
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Fall 2008 | Vol. 11 | No. 3

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Alcoholic Energy Drink Release Delayed

In response to pressure from states, beverage manufacturer MillerCoors agreed to postpone the planned October 1 launch of its new caffeinated alcoholic energy drink, Sparks Red. Attorneys general from 25 states had asked the company to abandon its plans, citing health risks to young drinkers.

The group, including New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, said the combination of alcohol and caffeine reduces drinkers' sense of intoxication. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said that the drink would be a "recipe for disaster." Attorneys general and trade groups have noted that young drinkers are especially vulnerable because of their limited judgment and risky behaviors in driving and other activities.

A letter by the 25 attorneys general to MillerCoors Chief Executive Leo Kiely hinted at a potential lawsuit if the product wasn't pulled. The letter also claimed the new drink would have more alcohol than previous versions.

The delay in launching Sparks Red does nothing to take original Sparks or other similar drinks off the market. However, the public advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest has filed a lawsuit asking the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to stop MillerCoors from selling any Sparks drink. The suit notes that it is illegal to use caffeine, guarana, ginseng and taurine in alcoholic beverages and alleges that Sparks products contain all these ingredients.