2010-01-07 / Front Page

Sales of energy drinks to come with warning signs in Thousand Oaks

By Nancy Needham nancy@theacorn.com

BUYER BEWARE—A warning label displayed on a cooler at D&K Liquor  in Thousand Oaks warns consumers about  the  risks  of consuming alcoholic energy drinks. A Thousand Oaks law requires stores that sell both energy drinks and liquor or alcoholic energy drinks to display warning signs. Thousand Oaks is the first city in California to require businesses to post the warning signs. JANN HENDRY/Acorn Newspapers BUYER BEWARE—A warning label displayed on a cooler at D&K Liquor in Thousand Oaks warns consumers about the risks of consuming alcoholic energy drinks. A Thousand Oaks law requires stores that sell both energy drinks and liquor or alcoholic energy drinks to display warning signs. Thousand Oaks is the first city in California to require businesses to post the warning signs. JANN HENDRY/Acorn Newspapers The city has ordered stores that sell energy drinks and alcohol or combined alcohol/energy drinks to post signs educating the public about the dangers of those products.

Alhough few stores have done so, the warning signs were supposed to go up Dec. 18, 31 days after the ordinance was signed into law by the City Council on Nov. 17.

Thousand Oaks residents are the first in the state to be warned inside the store about the dangers of mixing alcohol with energy drinks or purchasing alcoholic energy drinks, according to city officials

The signs should be a minimum of 8 inches by 8 inches and read “Warning: Consuming energy drinks that contain or are mixed with alcohol may mask the signs of impairment and increase your risk of injury,” according to Thousand Oaks Police Sgt. Don Aguilar.

The signs should be posted on the cooler where the drinks are sold, on the display area or by the register, he said.

“This law helps educate parents and retailers to reduce the risk of underage drinkers in Thousand Oaks,” Aguilar said.

County behavioral-health workers are in the process of creating standard signs, but some retailers have already come up with their own, he said.

According to a report by the Thousand Oaks Police Department, alcoholic energy drinks are easily obtained by children and teens.

In a police department warning, patrol officers are told that calls for service might involve students drinking alcoholic energy drinks on school campuses. The report also said, “Parents may not realize their children are actually drinking alcohol” and people may have consumed it without realizing the drink contained alcohol.

The labels are easily confused with nonalcoholic energy drinks, police officials said.

This combination of alcohol and energy drinks can be dangerous, the report continues, because the stimulant effect of the energy drinks can mask how intoxicated a person is. Fatigue is one of the ways the body normally tells someone they’ve had enough to drink, but the energy drink may make the person feel alert and unimpaired.

The energy drink does not decrease a person’s blood alcohol concentration.

The purpose of the ordinance is to “protect public health, safety and general welfare by providing information to consumers when making purchases.” It further states the city “does not intend to regulate the sale or purchase of alcoholic beverages or to affect the ability of a purchaser or seller of alcoholic beverages to complete a sales transaction.”

The difference between these beverages and Kahlua, Irish coffee, and rum and Coke are explained in the ordinance. The ordinance says the mixtures of energy drinks and alcohol have more stimulants, are marketed to offer more alertness and are popular among preteens, teens and young adults, who are at increased risk of injury.

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