BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles could become the nation's first city to ban minors from purchasing energy drinks, as the City Council considers restrictive policies on the beverages.
The potential policies appeared in the initial form of a motion by Councilman Bernard Parks in a committee hearing on Monday afternoon.
In addition to the effect the beverages may have on the general public, Councilman Parks says he is concerned about the effect overindulgence in the drinks is having on police officers and other first responders, who often work late hours, off little sleep and under excessive pressure.
"If you're in this mode of drinking this energy drink, instead of eating your breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you're using it to stay up for long periods of time, and you're not sleeping, you're in danger of injuring yourself and causing health problems," Parks said. "That's what we're concerned about."
While skeptics of the motion argue that cracking down on the highly-caffeinated energy drinks is an FDA matter, supporters are suggesting that, if the federal government won't do anything about it, perhaps it is time for the city to step in.
Parks' proposal includes a three-step plan that he will push the council to endorse:
• The first step is to launch a campaign to alert city employees to the health-related dangers of excessive use of energy drinks.
• The second step involves the regulation of sales of the drinks to children and young teenagers by selling them 'behind the counter' and implementing an age requirement for their purchase.
• Finally, the third step examines whether the city attorney should consider joining in litigation against the most potent energy drinks, which Parks suggests are often marketed to children.
Mayor Garcetti tells CBS2/KCAL9 political reporter Dave Bryan that the issue is certainly worthy of consideration.
"I think it's a fair thing to look at, I want to see this more as they explore it," Mayor Garcetti said. "But there's certainly marketing that goes often times towards kids, whether it's energy drinks, whether it's cigarettes that we've seen."
While some compare the proposal to the recent campaign of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to put a restriction on the sales of large quantities of soft drinks, Councilman Parks says they have no intention of acting like "the food police".
"I do think we need to be concerned about whether young people get access," Parks said. "And I think we have another mandate, [which is] letting our city employees know the potential health factors."
Ultimately, the committee decided to postpone the matter, instead asking the personnel dept of city to look into the proposals, along with health issues related to energy drinks, and report back to the council after 30 days.
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