Constellation Brands, Inc., File No. 0923035, Proposed Consent Agreement #542620-00001

Submission Number:
Harriett Dean
Ingham Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition
Initiative Name:
Constellation Brands, Inc., File No. 0923035, Proposed Consent Agreement
We commend the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) decision to investigate the marketing practices associated with Alcoholic Energy Drinks (AEDs) containing distilled spirits, sugar and stimulants, including caffeine and guarana. Federal action is urgently needed to address the health and safety risks associated with AEDs, particularly as they affect youth alcohol problems. Unfortunately, we are submitting these comments in opposition to the proposed Consent Order. We do not believe that it is a sufficient response by the FTC given the scope of the problem posed by AED's and similar products on the market and the deceptive and unfair nature of distiller marketing practices We believe FTC should prohibit the premixing of alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine as an unfair and deceptive business practice. Nonalcoholic energy drinks containing high levels of caffeine constitute a rapidly growing segment of the beverage market, particularly among teenagers and young adults. Recent scientific studies have raised concerns about the health and safety risks these products pose, particularly for youth. A popular trend has been to mix these energy drinks with alcohol. Many alcohol producers, such as Sparks and Full Throttle noted this trend and began marketing pre-mixed AEDs using many of the youth-oriented marketing strategies associated with nonalcoholic energy drinks. In particular, AED marketers claim or imply that AEDs increase a person’s stamina or energy level, may include youth-oriented messaging and graphics, and rely on unmeasured media and viral marketing techniques (e.g., text messaging, message boards on Internet website, etc.). Additionally, the marketing frequently promotes consumption as a means to staying up longer and drinking more. The risks associated with mixing alcohol and caffeine and other stimulants are now well documented in the scientific literature. Of particular concern is the research finding that stimulants mask the subjective feeling of intoxication, which increases the possibility that consumers, particularly inexperienced drinkers, will engage in heavy drinking and incorrectly believe they are capable of potentially dangerous activities and tasks, including driving. Recent surveys have shown that mixing alcohol with energy drinks is popular with college students, particularly among those who engage in frequent binge drinking. College students who combine alcohol and caffeine are twice as likely to experience alcohol-related injuries, including sexual assault and are twice as likely to drive with someone who has been drinking as those students who do not consume alcohol and stimulants in this manner. We respectfully request your full attention to this matter and request these products be banned from the market. Respectfully, the Ingham Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, Ingham County, Michigan