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Post date: September 17 2008

Attorney General Cuomo Demands Miller/coors Brewery Stop Plans To Introduce Sparks Red, An Even More Dangerous Alcohol Energy Drink Than Its Current Product

NEW YORK, NY (September 17, 2008) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he is ratcheting-up pressure on MillerCoors LLC to stop its plans to introduce a new caffeinated alcohol beverage into the market this fall that would target young drinkers. The new drink, Sparks Red, is an even higher alcohol-content version of its current caffeinated alcohol beverage Sparks - a beverage Cuomo is already working to stop the production of. Cuomo today warned that the new caffeinated alcohol drink presents even greater health risks to young consumers, and cited a recent study conducted by Wake Forest University that found that college students who consumed alcohol mixed with caffeinated energy drinks suffered more alcohol-related injuries and sexual assaults.

Cuomo, along with Attorney Generals from 24 other states, sent a letter today to MillerCoors calling on the company to stops its plan to introduce the new drink. In June, Cuomo announced that Anheuser-Busch was stopping the sale of all caffeinated alcohol beverages after an investigation showed the company was illegally marketing these drinks to young people.   

“By introducing Sparks Red, a higher alcohol-content and even more dangerous version of its Sparks product, MillerCoors is demonstrating an utter disregard for the safety of young consumers,” said Attorney General Cuomo.  “Drinking is not a sport, and my office will not stand idly by as MillerCoors ramps-up its efforts to market these potentially harmful products to young consumers.”

Caffeinated alcoholic beverages like Sparks Red, which taste and look like popular non-alcoholic energy drinks, have grown increasingly popular with young people. Aggressive marketing campaigns by companies have sought to target young drinkers and college students, and reinforce the common misconception that the caffeine in the drinks will counteract the effects of the alcohol.  However, caffeinated alcoholic beverages are a particularly dangerous product because the caffeine masks the effects of the alcohol so that young drinkers, who the products are targeted to, don’t feel intoxicated, when in fact they are.

In June of this year, Anheuser-Busch entered into an agreement with New York and ten other states to stop selling its caffeinated alcohol beverages Tilt and Bud Extra.  It also agreed not to produce any such products in the future.  MillerCoors, by contrast, has so far continued to sell Sparks.  Its new product, Sparks Red, has eight percent (8%) alcohol by volume, significantly more than is in its beers or in other alcohol energy drinks on the market.

Cuomo today added, “when Anheuser-Busch was presented with the facts about the dangers of mixing alcohol and caffeine, it did the right thing and took its caffeinated alcohol products off the market.  MillerCoors, on the other hand, isn’t just continuing to ignore the dangers of its current product, it has now decided to put out an even more dangerous one.”

New York was joined by Connecticut, California, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.