SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBS 2/ WCBS 880) — They’re popular among teens and adults, but energy drinks are also unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
They are known to be overloaded with sugar, caffeine and other stimulants.
Experts say they’re dangerous; teens say they’re harmless.
“I use it for school, when I’m tired and I need energy,” Ashley Malave of Smithtown told CBS 2’s Derrick Dennis.
But energy’s one thing — a high school high is another.
Long Island legislator Lynne Nowick has introduced a bill in Suffolk County to ban the sale of energy drinks to teens under 19 — school age.
“These energy drinks can be very detrimental to young people,” said Nowick, a Republican.
Take Four Loko, for example. It is banned in several states, including New York, because of the potential danger of mixing so much caffeine with alcohol.
“We as government, we as adults, we as parents, we as school officials certainly have to try to educate,” Nowick said.
Andrew Silverman, and 18-year-old from Smithtown, said he prefers coffee in the winter months and energy drinks all summer long. He said they’re the same.
“Nineteen to buy energy drinks? That’s a joke, I think. That’s a joke,” Silverman said.
“I would say diet pills are a lot worse, you know what I mean? People will like pop diet pills to go to the gym. You don’t have to be 18 or 19 to buy those. But I can be freaking out on them, like oh, oh.”
We did find a few leftover cans of Four Loko on store shelves, but under this proposed law, all of these energy drinks would be outlawed, with a sign at the counter saying if you’re under 19, you can’t buy.
But convenience store owners like Victor Shah said the ban will be bad for business.
“Every penny counts, every energy drink. Make money you know?” said Victor Shah of S&V Convenience in Smithtown.
And some parents said it’s another example of government crossing the line, unnecessarily.
“Under 19 is 18,” said Michael Danziger of Nesconset. “An 18-year-old can serve in the armed forces. They can decide whether or not to drink an energy drink.”
“What I’m saying is you can smoke whatever your parents let you smoke and you can drink alcohol whenever your parents let you but what I’m trying to do is I’m not stopping anybody, particularly adults, from drinking this I’m banning the sale of energy drinks to minors,” Nowick told WCBS 880.
She also is sponsoring separate legislation calling for signs where energy drinks are sold alerting consumers to the health risks.
She said a public hearing on the proposal would be held later this month.