South Carolina Considers Banning Energy Drinks for Kids After Teen Death

Selling energy drinks to minors would result in a misdemeanor charge and a $50 fine.

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A year ago, Davis Allen Cripe, a 16-year-old student from South Carolina, unexpectedly died after collapsing in a classroom at Spring Hill High School. Cripe’s cause of death was determined to be a “caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia,” which was caused by drinking too much caffeine — a Diet Mountain Dew, a fast-food cafe latte and an energy drink — in a short period of time.

Since Davis’ death, his parents, Sean and Heidi Cripe, have worked to get the state of South Carolina to ban the sale of highly caffeinated drinks to anyone under the age of 18. This week, State Representative Leon Howard proposed a bill that would achieve that goal, making it illegal for anyone to sell or even give an energy drink to anyone under the age of 18. Anyone caught violating the law would face a misdemeanor charge and could be fined up to $50 per violation if convicted.

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Sean and Heidi, along with other advocates for the bill, argue that it would have saved Davis’ life had it been in effect. “It stopped his heart right there. They (EMS) weren’t able to revive him, and he went to heaven that day,” Sean told the South Carolina House Minority Caucus last week.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, 2,214 cases of people below the age of 19 have been recorded getting sick after ingesting energy drinks or drinks with high caffeine content. The vast majority (1,911) of those cases have been teens. But Davis is the only recorded death from too much caffeine in the last five years.

Regardless of whether or not the bill gains support from South Carolina legislators, it will not become law this year after missing the deadline for legislation to pass through the House or the Senate.

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