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SACRAMENTO -- With the stroke of a pen, California has become the seventh state to ban caffeinated alcohol drinks. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill yesterday that prohibits the sale of "beer to which caffeine has been directly added as a separate ingredient."
The law, which was sponsored by State Sen. Alex Padilla (D), goes into effect Jan. 1, 2012. "I applaud Gov. Brown for signing SB 39. Caffeinated beer beverages are a threat to public health. The added caffeine masks the effects of the high alcohol content, which can lead to binge drinking and dangerous behavior," Padilla said in statement posted on his website. "California now joins Massachusetts, New York, Washington, Utah, Michigan and Kansas in banning these dangerous drinks."
Caffeinated beer beverages began popping up on stores shelves in 2005. Concern over the drinks took center stage last year after college students -- notably at Central Washington University in Washington State and Ramapo College in New Jersey -- were hospitalized after drinking them.
"The governor's action [Aug. 1] will help prevent similar incidents from occurring here in California," Padilla added.
In November, the beverages drew the attention of the Food and Drug Administration. After reviewing the product, the agency issued warning letters to the manufacturers of seven caffeinated alcoholic beverages that their drinks were "a public health concern" and that it will not allow the beverages to stay on the market in their current form. The companies were given 15 days to reformulate their products or face possible seizure under federal law, as CSNews Online reported.