The state House of Representatives has passed a bill that would ban alcoholic energy drinks from being sold in South Carolina stores. The bill targets malt beverages such as Four Loko and Joose, which are marketed towards younger drinkers.
Rep. Thad Viers (R-Horry) said the law would only apply to those drinks sold in stores, not mixed drinks offered at a bar.
This has nothing to do with liquor drinks. If you want to consume Red Bull and vodkas, or sweet tea and vodkas, you can buy it. This will prevent mass consumption and purchasing at your local gas station for $2.98.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Laurie Funderburk (D-Kershaw), said the drinks are dangerous because they contain caffeine, which delays alcohol’s effects.
It gives them a false sense of sobriety. Folks who drink these kind of drinks (do so) for longer periods of time because they don’t realize the alcohol content that they have consumed. This leads to… very dangerous behavior.
She adds this includes driving home after drinking. Funderburk said law enforcement usually finds the beverages at parties frequented by underage drinkers.
The Food and Drug Administration ruled caffeinated alcoholic beverages “unsafe” in November. Phusion Products–the company that brewed Four Loko–has since removed caffeine, taurine, and guarana from its drink and renamed it Four. However, the original drink is still being sold online as part of a black market.
However, Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) told Viers that banning the malt drinks for everyone because some people abuse it is not the answer.
Wouldn’t you agree that every single argument you made could be used for this body to ban cigarettes, for this body to ban beer, for this body to continue the “nanny state” that this bill would move us into?
Viers said it was a public safety issue, which prompted a response from Rutherford.
Rep. Kris Crawford (R-Florence) also opposed the bill, saying it was not the right way to stop underage drinking in South Carolina.
I think this is motivated by the concern that you walk into any convenience store and, three feet in, you trip over a pyramid of 12-packs of beer. So, a kid goes in to buy a candy bar and he’s tripping over a 12-pack. That is a problem that we should deal with at some point in time here in South Carolina.
The bill now heads to the Senate.