A proposal to ban energy drinks in Chicago has fizzled after city lawmakers found the idea that high-caffeine beverages pose an immediate danger to the public hard to swallow.
A city council committee hearing on Tuesday failed to vote on a proposal by alderman Edward Burke to prohibit the sale of drinks with 180 or more milligrams of caffeine and that also include the stimulants taurine or guarana.
(MORE: What’s In Your Energy Drink?)
While the hearing did not result in a vote, members decided to retain the matter for further consideration at a later date. There remains a possibility that an age-related ban could be implemented instead. “At the end of the day, you want better consumer protection, and that means labeling,” said alderman George Cardenas, who oversaw the hearing as chairman of the Health Committee, according to CPS.net.
Public health officials nationwide have reported a surge in emergency room visits due to overconsumption of caffeinated drinks — from 1,000 in 2005 to 16,000 in 2008, reports CBS Chicago. The move to ban the drinks came in the wake of a headline-grabbing lawsuit filed against beverage firm Monster by the parents of Anais Fournier, who died from cardiac problems after drinking two large cans of the stuff on two successive days. (The defense team maintaints that the 14-year-old’s death was caused by a pre-existing heart condition.)
Drinks manufacturers obviously considered the threat of a ban in Chicago serious; Red Bull, the American Beverage Association and 7-Eleven Inc. all had well-connected political insiders lobbying against the ban, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Red Bull remains the dominant player in U.S. energy drinks with 42% of the 2012 market amounting to $2.95 billion in sales, although Monster is fast catching up with 37% worth $2.6 billion.