For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
Date: December 18, 2008
MillerCoors to Stop Brewing Alcohol Energy Drinks
(Boise) – MillerCoors has agreed to stop production of its alcohol energy drink Sparks, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. Sparks is the best-selling pre-mixed alcohol energy drink in the United States. MillerCoors also agreed to reformulate Sparks brand products without caffeine or other stimulants. In addition, MillerCoors agreed not to produce any other caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future.
Attorneys general have been concerned about abuse of alcohol energy drinks by young people and marketing that appeared to target young people. A published study by Dr. Mary Clair 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, such as sexual assault and injury.
“The stimulants in these beverages mask the effects of the alcohol,” Attorney General Wasden said. “As a result, the consumer feels alert and, although impaired by alcohol, does not perceive that he or she is impaired. This means they’re more likely to make unsafe decisions, which can result in serious harm to themselves or others.”
The settlement also addresses concerns about the marketing of Sparks. MillerCoors will stop using images in its marketing that imply energy or power, like the battery-themed +/- symbols on the can. In addition, MillerCoors will cease particular marketing themes that appeal to underage youth and will not renew its contract with William Ocean, an air guitar champion who does a back flip onto an opened can of Sparks at all of his shows. MillerCoors will also immediately discontinue the Sparks website.
“Young people will be substantially safer as a result of MillerCoors’ decision to voluntarily eliminate alcohol energy drinks from its product line,” Attorney General Wasden said. “I realize it is a decision that will cost the company a lot of money. MillerCoors deserves applause and recognition for its leadership in making what must have been a very difficult decision.”
Wasden joined the attorneys general of 13 other states, along with the City of San Francisco, California, and San Francisco County in the agreement with MillerCoors.
In May, Wasden and other attorneys general reached a similar agreement in which Anheuser-Busch agreed to stop producing alcohol energy drinks. As a result of the two agreements, nearly 85% of all alcohol energy drinks that were available at the start of this year will be eliminated from the market.
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