Liquor Control Board requests bill to prohibit energy-enhanced malt beverages

Products affect perception of intoxication

Jan. 14, 2010

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) has requested legislation to prohibit pre-mixed, energy-enhanced malt beverages. These beverages are typically sold in cans in convenience stores statewide. House Bill 2804 will be up for consideration during the 2010 regular session.

“Recent medical and scientific research suggests that alcohol-energy drinks create a dangerous mix – especially for youth,” said Sharon Foster, Board chair. “Drinking alcohol pre-mixed with caffeine or other stimulants pose a threat because they can make you feel less intoxicated than you actually are, potentially leading to risk taking behavior such as drunk drinking and violence.”

Rep. Tami Green of the 28th Legislative District is the prime sponsor of the bill. This bipartisan bill is also sponsored by Representatives Hudgins, Goodman, Conway, Chandler, Crouse, Condotta, Moeller, Miloscia, Darneille, and Hunt.

“There’s a serious problem when a main contributor to the leading cause of death in teens is disguised as a harmless energy drink,” Green said. “As a mother and grandmother, I’m deeply concerned about the young people affected by this misperception.”   

Bill information

Under House Bill 2804, a new section that reads “Any caffeinated or stimulant-enhanced malt beverage, as defined in RCW 66.04.010, are prohibited for sale in the state of Washington” would be added to Revised Code of Washington chapter 66.28.

The following description would be added to RCW 66.04.010: “’Caffeinated or stimulant-enhanced malt beverage’ means a beverage to which is added caffeine or other stimulants including, but not limited to, guarana, ginseng, and taurine, and contains at least one-half of one percent alcohol by volume.”

FDA reviewing products

At the request of state attorneys general, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Nov. 13, 2009 sent letters notifying nearly 30 manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages that it intends to look into the safety of their products. The FDA also plans to consider whether caffeine can lawfully be added to alcoholic beverages. If the FDA determines such products are not safe or lawful, it will take action to remove the products from the marketplace.

Related WSLCB policy

In October 2009, the Liquor Control Board signed Policy #09-2009, which prohibits marketing or point-of-sale material in liquor stores that suggests or recommends the use of energy drinks with alcoholic beverages. 


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