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Suffolk County Votes To Ban Sales Of Powdered Caffeine To Minors

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Suffolk County legislators voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the sale of highly concentrated powdered caffeine to minors.

County lawmakers say the death of a teen this year in Ohio prompted their vote to ban the product by local retailers to anyone under the age of 18, CBS 2's Tracee Carrasco reported.

"A teaspoon of powdered caffeine is equivalent of 25 cups of coffee," said DuWayne Gregory, D-Amityville, presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature.

Gregory said powdered caffeine now being sold over the Internet is so highly concentrated that manufacturers list warnings and recommend that consumers use only one-16th of a teaspoon at a time.

"Who can measure a 16th of a teaspoon full?" said Suffolk Legislator William Spencer, D-Northport. "A lot of times, a teaspoon full is the minimum amount that we use on anything. And a teaspoon can be fatal."

Some teens told CBS 2 they think the ban is useless because it doesn't prevent Internet sales.

Ryan Brunjes, of West Babylon, called the legislation nanny government.

"It really shouldn't be banned," he said. "It's more in the people's choice. Like, it's more of 'to each his own.'"

Suffolk legislators acknowledged they won't be able to stop Internet sales, but they're hoping the ban will raise consumer awareness of the dangers, especially among teen athletes trying to boost their performance.

"Caffeine is a drug. It's a drug, and when you put it in this type of form, it's a powerful drug," said Legislator Sarah Anker, D-Mount Sinai. "So we have to protect our kids."

Lawmakers say local retailers caught selling powdered caffeine will first be warned, with fines possible down the road. The powdered caffeine ban would take effect Jan. 1.

CBS 2 reached out to manufacturers of powdered caffeine for reaction to the legislation, but has not heard back.

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