While Four Loko, aka “blackout in a can,” and other caffeinated alcoholic beverages are already fading from shelves, Suffolk County legislators are pressing forward, weighing a ban on all energy drink sales to patrons younger than 19.

“Suffolk County is very proactive in taking care of its young people,” said proposing Legislator Lynne C. Nowick (R-St. James), who argued that energy drinks, both alcoholic like Four Loko and non-alcoholic like Red Bull, delivered a dangerous cocktail of caffeine and herbal supplements. “I did think of a blanket ban, but didn’t want to tell adults what they can drink or not drink.”

On Dec. 21, legislators will have a public hearing about the ban. Nowick said she would have opposed caffeinated alcoholic beverages had the state not banned their sale last month.

In a statement, the American Beverage Association said caffeine “has been deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration” and coffee drinkers get “about twice as much caffeine as they would from an energy drink.”

At Farmingdale State College, NOS, a “high performance energy drink,” was available in campus vending machines, potentially useful with the time crunch of finals week.

“I’ve been taking [energy drinks] all day long,” said Aman Singh, 24, a mechanical engineering student from Franklin Square, who favors Red Bull Sugar Free. “I take them when I work out.” He opposed the ban, saying young people should have a choice between an energy drink or a coffee.

Nefi Navarro, 18, a first-year Bronx student in the professional pilot program, was not a fan. “I don’t need an energy boost. I’m naturally hyper,” he said, noting that many friends including younger students were addicted to it. An outreach program aimed at young people, he argued, would be preferable to a ban.


The Suffolk County Legislature is considered one of the more proactive local governments regarding health-related bans.

» May 2007: The sale of cough medicine with DXM to minors is banned to stem teen abuse
» March 2009: The use of BPA, which is used to make polycarbonate plastic, is banned in baby bottles citing adverse developmental effects in infants
» March 2008: Salvia divinorum, a hallucinogenic herb with wide availability and made notorious by YouTube videos, is outlawed entirely

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