State Attorneys General Negotiate End of Caffeinated "Sparks" Beer

Statement of CSPI Director of Litigation Steve Gardner

December 18, 2008

It was a bad idea that never should have gotten as far as it did—adding caffeine to sweetened, high-alcohol-content malt beverages and marketing them to young people via word-of-mouth and infantile web sites. Marketing caffeinated beer demonstrated a disturbing lack of restraint on the part of major companies like MillerCoors, and it put millions of young Americans in harms way. That's why we sued the company in September.

Thankfully, the Youth Access to Alcohol Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General, led by Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe, launched an investigation into these ill-advised products many months ago. And with the announcement today that the AGs and the City Attorney of San Francisco have forged an agreement with MillerCoors to end the Sparks line of caffeinated alcohol, this investigation comes to a successful end. Now that Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have each agreed separately to discontinue caffeinated alcoholic drinks, this entire niche of products is all but shut down.

The historic agreement negotiated by the Attorneys General, which also includes curbs on MillerCoors' marketing to youth, means fewer instances of alcohol poisoning, fewer sexual assaults, and fewer young lives snuffed out in car crashes or acts of violence. The smaller companies still operating in this space would be well advised to follow suit.


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