Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Nov 10 2010

Alcohol and stimulants are a dangerous combination, McKenna says

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Rob McKenna today commended the Washington Liquor Control Board for its decision to join other states in issuing an emergency rule banning the sale of alcoholic energy drinks in Washington and announced that federal action, resulting from work by state attorneys general, is expected soon.
McKenna said he’s been working with fellow attorneys general to find a nationwide solution to this dangerous problem since 2007. In 2008, they asked the nation's biggest brewers, Anheuser-Beusch and Miller-Coors, to completely remove their stimulant-infused alcoholic beverages from the market, which both companies agreed to do as responsible corporations. Following the states’ request in November 2009, McKenna said he anticipates the Food and Drug Administration will rule on this issue soon.

“These drinks are heavily marketed to youth with fruity flavors and large quantities of stimulants to mask the high levels of alcohol,” McKenna continued. “This dangerous combination results in too many youth drinking way too much, way too fast — and waking up in local hospitals with alcohol poisoning. Known as ‘blackout in a can,’ these beverages present too many health risks to remain in the marketplace.”

With this decision, Washington becomes the fourth state to restrict the sale of the dangerous cocktails in the last week, following Pennsylvania, Michigan and Oklahoma. All three states announced restrictions following a party in Roslyn that garnered national attention when nine Central Washington University students, all under 21, were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after consuming the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko.

The state Liquor Control Board approved an emergency rule this morning stating that "No product that combines beer, strong beer, or malt liquor with caffeine, guarana, taurine, or other similar substances which are commonly referred to as "alcohol energy drinks" may be imported into the state, produced, manufactured, distributed, sold or offered for sale by a licensed retailer in the state of Washington after November 17, 2010."  The emergency rule automatically expires in 120 days. The Board also voted to commence formal rulemaking.

Members of the public interested in voicing their opinions about the formal ban may file comments with:

Karen McCall, Agency Rules Coordinator
Washington State Liquor Control Board
PO Box 43080
Olympia, WA 98504-3080
360-664-9689 FAX
Email: rules@liq.wa.gov

The board plans to hold a public hearing on the formal rule on Feb. 23, 2011.

McKenna is a member of the state Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking and a member of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Youth Access to Alcohol Committee.

–30 –

• Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, 360-584-3046 (cell)