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Bill bans energy drinks wherever alcohol served

By Mary Jean Hall
On March 13, 2013

Jager bombs, Vodka-Red Bulls, Electric Screwdrivers and other energy drink cocktails may soon be illegal for restaurants and bars to serve if House Bill 347 passes through the state legislature.
HB 347 by Rep. McManus prohibits the sale of energy drinks at a business with a license or permit to serve or sell liquor by the drink. SB 110 is the companion bill.
The bill would designate the offense as a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by fine and suspension of an offender's license or permit to serve or sell liquor by the drink.

The legislation considers an "energy drink" as any beverage that contains methylxanthines, and whose main purpose is to boost a person's energy.
Some local business owners, including Johnny Nanney, owner of Cadillac's, see the bill as detrimental to their business. Cadillac's is a local bar on the corner of Lindell and Church Streets.

"It would definitely hurt our business," Nanney said. "It's a significant amount of revenue. Bomb shots with energy drinks are probably our most popular drinks."
Nanney estimates that Cadillac's sells about ten cases of energy drinks each week. He also stated that Cadillac's has never noted any consumer health problems with the alcohol and energy drink combinations.
"We've never had an energy drink related problem," he said. "From time to time we will have people over the limit, but we get them home safely. Energy drinks have never been an issue."

Nanney looks for his customers to reach out to their respective representatives and senators.
"People should voice their opinions on it," Nanney continued.
Similar bills have been presented through other city and state governments citing sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.
According to the CDC, when alcoholic beverages are mixed with energy drinks the caffeine in the drinks can mask the depressant effects of alcohol. The CDC also states that drinkers who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are three times more likely to binge drink than drinkers who do not report mixing alcohol with energy drinks.
Amelia M. Arria, Ph.D., Associate Director for the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland College Park, with other scientists and professors, compiled a letter that was addressed to some Attorney Generals. In the letter, Arria reported that as many as 28 percent of U.S. college students combine caffeine and alcohol when drinking.

"The consumption of caffeinated alcoholic beverages has been associated with increased risk of serious injury to oneself and to others, as the result of driving while intoxicated, sexual assault and other dangerous behaviors," Arria said.
On March 8 the Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee studied the potential fiscal impact of HB 347 and estimated that there was not a significant fiscal impact .The act would take effect July 1, 2013 upon passage.

UTM students who are registered to vote in District 76, which contains Weakley County and parts of Obion and Carroll Counties, can contact Rep. Andy Holt (R) at
rep.andy.holt@capitol.tn.gov to give their opinions on the bill. Constituents can also call his Nashville office at 615-741-7847.
Students who live outside of the Martin area can visit www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members for a list of the other representatives in the state.
For more information on HB 347 or other bills currently traveling through the state legislature, visit www.capitol.tn.gov/legislation.


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