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September 17, 2008


Attorney General Cites Dangers of Mixing Alcohol
with Energy Drinks

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today called on MillerCoors, LLC to abandon its plan to introduce a new alcoholic energy drink - Sparks Red - that contains significantly elevated alcohol content.

Madigan is one of 25 Attorneys General sending a letter today to W. Leo Kiely, chief executive officer of MillerCoors, opposing the new product and stating, "MillerCoor's decision to sell Sparks Red defies undeniable evidence from medical and public health professionals about the dangers of mixing alcohol with stimulants in energy drinks."

"I am extremely disappointed with MillerCoor's decision to introduce Sparks Red to the marketplace," said Madigan. "The scientific evidence clearly shows the grave dangers these products pose, especially to young consumers. I urge MillerCoor's to reverse its decision and keep this product off store shelves in the interest of consumers' health and safety."

A recent 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 such as sexual assault and injury.

Sparks Red contains as much as eight percent alcohol by volume, a significant increase over the alcohol content found in other alcoholic energy drinks. The states have repeatedly raised concerns about alcoholic energy drinks, particularly regarding their appeal to young drinkers and their possible adverse health effects.

The other states in opposition to the product launch are: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Madigan's call on MillerCoors is part of her longstanding efforts to protect young people from the marketing of harmful products. In June, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., following negotiations with Madigan and 10 other states, agreed to discontinue its alcoholic drinks spiked with caffeine and other stimulants, including "Tilt" and "Bud Extra."

In August 2007, Madigan signed on to a letter urging the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the federal agency responsible for monitoring marketing of alcohol, to increase its efforts to prevent misleading claims by alcoholic energy drinks. Similarly, in May 2007, Madigan joined other Attorneys General in urging Anheuser-Busch to adjust its advertising of another alcoholic energy drink called Spykes. In response, Anheuser-Busch pulled Spykes from stores. Madigan also joined a letter urging Anheuser-Busch to require additional information for verification before visitors may access one of its popular product Web sites; the company installed an age verification program on its site so that visitors must provide first and last names, zip code and date of birth.

Madigan has also taken action to protect young people from the marketing of non-alcoholic energy drinks as illicit drugs. In May, the Attorney General demanded the Las Vegas company Kingpin Concepts, Inc., discontinue its cocaine-themed marketing and sale of an energy drink named "Blow," a drink mix that glorifies drug culture and has raised serious health concerns due to its high caffeine content. Kingpin has agreed to cease sales of the product in Illinois. In May 2007, Madigan reached a similar agreement with the California-based Redux Beverages, LLC, for its distribution of an energy drink named "Cocaine."

Additionally, in October 2006, Madigan and the attorneys general of 38 other states and jurisdictions entered a settlement with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) to end its sale of candy, fruit and alcohol flavored cigarettes that the Attorneys General believe had been targeted at youth. Madigan is currently in mediation with RJR over the claim that its use of cartoons in its advertisements is a violation of the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). That agreement, which the tobacco industry signed to end the national tobacco litigation, expressly prohibits the use of cartoons to advertise or promote cigarettes.


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