AUGUSTA, Maine — State lawmakers voted Thursday to spike a bill that could have prohibited minors from buying so-called “energy drinks” after the sponsor said she needed more time to research the issue.
Rep. Peggy Pendleton, D-Scarborough, introduced the legislation to ban sales of energy drinks to those under 18 in response to concerns about how large doses of caffeine can affect children and young people.
She cited recent research linking consumption of the caffeine-laced beverages by young people with episodes of elevated blood pressure, heart palpitations and other problems. The beverage industry opposed the bill.
On Thursday, Pendleton acknowledged that the bill, LD 17, needed additional work. Several states have attempted to ban sales of high-caffeine drinks to minors without success. Others are exploring mandatory labels that warn about the caffeine content, she said.
“I think to ban the energy drink is not very practical at this time, and to ask store owners and mom and pop stores to label them and sort them out is probably not practical either,” Pendleton said.
Instead, the Health and Human Services Committee agreed to formally recommend that Pendleton work with the Attorney General’s Office, Maine’s health agencies and others to study the issue.
Rep. Sarah Lewin, R-Eliot, suggested Pendleton contact Maine’s congressional delegation about possible federal involvement. Some scientists have called on the federal Food and Drug Administration to better regulate energy drinks.
“If we want to do something with labeling, then that’s where it has to happen, with the federal government,” Lewin said.
In other news, the committee voted “ought not to pass” on a bill that would have included a patient’s HIV status on medical information exchanged between health care providers.
Lawmakers did not discuss a proposed ban on smoking at state park beaches.