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September 17, 2008
McKenna calls on brewer to drop extra boozy energy drink

OLYMPIA--Attorney General Rob McKenna today joined 24 other state Attorneys General in urging MillerCoors, LLC to abandon its plan to introduce a new alcoholic energy drink -- Sparks Red -- that contains significantly boosted alcohol content.

In a letter to W. Leo Kiely, chief executive officer of MillerCoors, the Attorneys General said the company’s decision to introduce Sparks Red defies increasing undeniable evidence from medical and public health professionals about the dangers of mixing alcohol with stimulants found in energy drinks.

Sparks Red contains as much as 8 percent alcohol by volume, a significant increase over the alcohol content found in other alcoholic energy drinks. The states have repeatedly raised concerns about alcoholic energy drinks, particularly focusing on their appeal to, and adverse health effects on, young drinkers.

Attorney General McKenna said, “Drinks like Sparks Red offer a witch’s brew of stimulants and alcohol, marketed in a way that is very appealing to young people. But MillerCoors can’t responsibly ignore the overwhelming evidence that this dangerous mix has a devastating impact on our youth.”

The attorneys general cited a recent study that found that college students who mix alcohol and energy drinks engage in heavier episodic drinking and have twice as many incidences of weekly drunkenness. College students who reported consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks also had significantly higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences such as sexual assault and injury.

In June, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. -- also under pressure from several states -- agreed to discontinue its alcoholic drinks spiked with caffeine and other stimulants, including “Tilt” and “Bud Extra.”

McKenna’s staff is active in the state’s Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking and McKenna participated in the organization’s latest round of town hall meetings on underage drinking prevention in March 2008.

In 2007, McKenna partnered with the Washington Liquor Control Board, the Seattle Police Department and The Century Council on the “We Don’t Serve Teens” campaign.  In another campaign, McKenna worked with the Washington State Liquor Control Board on “Start Talking Before They Start Drinking”—aimed at middle school parents. 
In 2005, McKenna partnered with The Century Council and Nickelodeon for a campaign called “Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids And Alcohol Don’t Mix.”  The multimedia program was designed to help parents and trusted adults talk with young people about the dangers of alcohol before they are confronted with the opportunity to drink. 



Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725


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