COLUMBIA, S.C. — A bill banning the sale of energy drinks to minors advanced in the South Carolina house Thursday.
According to the Post and Courier, Sean Cripe, whose son collapsed in a classroom and died, urged legislators to put children’s health above the finances of the companies producing high-caffeine drinks.
16-year-old Davis Allen Cripe died from a caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia in April 2017. The teen consumed three caffeine-laced drinks — a cafe latte, large Diet Mountain Dew and an energy drink — in a two-hour period before collapsing in his high school classroom. He collapsed in school just before 2:30 p.m. and was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m.
Since Davis’ death, Sean Cripe has been advocating for parents and kids to realize the dangers of caffeinated beverages.
In 2018 a bill, introduced by Rep. Leon Howard and Davis Cripe’s parents, banning the sale of energy drinks to anyone under 18 was proposed. That legislation failed.
Now, the bill, H.4352, passed the medical affairs committee and advanced to the full House despite opposition.
Health professionals were asked to provide testimony Thursday regarding the legislation.
Those defending the beverage companies argued that energy drinks have the same amount of caffeine as a medium-sized McDoanld’s latte.
“There are many misconceptions about energy drinks,” Dr. Ashley Roberts, a vice president with Intertek, an international testing company, and an adviser to Monster Energy since 2013 reportedly said. “They do not contribute significant amounts of caffeine to teenagers. Teenagers get more than twice as much caffeine from coffee than energy drinks. Caffeine is caffeine.”
Sean Cripe also testified in front of the House.
“These drinks are very dangerous,” he reportedly said. “It makes you wonder why something hasn’t been done yet. It’s all about the money, pure and simple. They’re clearly drinks made for adults and we should treat them as adult beverages.”
If passed, the legislation would fine anyone caught selling or giving energy drinks to minors under age 18 at least $50 per offense.
According to the newspaper, the bill will not pass this year because there are only six days left in the legislative calendar.