Attorney General Steve Rowe discusses issues in Augusta.He recently succeeded in getting two alcoholic energy drinks pulled. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Article by Ramona du Houx

Attorney General Steve Rowe, with ten other Attorneys Generals announced an agreement with Anheuser-Busch that will result in the discontinuance of two popular premixed alcoholic energy drinks, Tilt and Bud Extra. As part of the agreement, Anheuser-Busch will not produce any caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future. Rowe commends Anheuser-Busch for its decision and calls on other manufactures to take similar steps to remove these potentially dangerous beverages from the market.

Rowe is gravely concerned about the epidemic of underage drinking and is committed to reducing the problem. He identifies alcoholic energy drinks as one part of the problem and has been leading the nation’s investigation into them. These products taste and look like popular nonalcoholic energy drinks. These amped-up alcopops are popular with young people who often form the wrong belief that the caffeine in the drinks will counteract the intoxicating effects of the alcohol. These beliefs are fueled by aggressive marketing campaigns that promise endless nights of fun and enhanced abilities.

Concerned about these marketing practices and armed with recently published research about the dangers of these products, Rowe initiated a multi-state investigation into the content and marketing of Anheuser-Busch products Tilt and Bud Extra. Maine issued an investigative subpoena/civil investigative demand to Anheuser-Busch in early January, pursuant to Maine’s protection and trade practices statutes. The investigation focused on express and implied false and misleading health-related statements about the energizing effects of Tilt and Bud Extra and advertisements for Tilt and Bud Extra that were directed to consumers under the age of 21.

While Anheuser-Busch denied the claims, it cooperated with the investigation and promptly decided to reformulate Tilt and Bud Extra without caffeine or other stimulants and to agree not to produce any other caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future.

“Alcohol mixed with high amounts of caffeine is a recipe for disaster, particularly in the hands of young people,” said Attorney General Rowe. “Caffeine gives drinkers the subjective belief that they can function normally. This means they’re more likely to make unsafe decisions which can result in serious harm.”

Attorney General Rowe emphasized that young people aren’t drinking just one or two of these alcoholic energy drinks — these products are intended to be consumed several times throughout a night of partying and to be used as a mixer for other alcoholic beverages.

A recently published study by Dr. Mary Claire O’Brien of Wake Forest University found that college students who mix alcohol and energy drinks engage in increased heavy episodic drinking and have twice as many episodes of weekly drunkenness. College students who reported consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks also had significantly higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences, like sexual assault and injury.