Officials in Long Island are considering whether to enact a drinking age of 19 for energy drinks, as the Food and Drug Administration investigates claims over deaths allegedly caused by the sugary, caffeinated beverages.
A spokesman for American Beverage Association insists the drinks are safe and says they contain the same amount of caffeine of a regular cup of coffee but the New York district is concerned over their popularity among teenagers.
But teens in Suffolk County, New York have blasted the proposal saying that teens needs the caffeine to keep up their active lifestyles.
Danger: Long Island health officials fear easy access to energy drinks could be unsafe for young consumers
Suffolk County, where officials would like the drinks to only be sold to customers 19 years and up, would be the first area in the U.S. to institute a minimum age for the drinks.
Health officials and policy makers have increasingly grown concerned over the impact of the drinks - full of sugar and stimulants that can quickly get a person's heart racing once ingested.
The Suffolk Board of Health has voted to encourage county and federal lawmakers to prohibit the sale of the energy beverages to anyone under 19.
'It has a bad nutritional message. It has risks for children. It has no therapeutic value,' Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr James Tomarken told WCBS-TV.
Drinking age: The Suffolk County Department of Health has voted to encourage local officials to require a minimum age of 19 to purchase energy drinks
William Spender, a Suffolk County legislator who also is a doctor by trade, is supportive of the measure given the concentrated amount of caffeine in the drinks.
'If a young person is in a strenuous activity, caffeine intoxication can lead to cardiac arrhythmia,' he said.
But young people from Long Island have spoken out saying the government is overacting.
'When they're having sleep-overs they just want to stay up all night,' Islip High School senior Courtney Perera told WCBS-TV.
'It's not like we are going to OD on an energy drink,' another high school senior Erin Cohen said.
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