Since energy drinks hit the beverage market in recent years, there’s been a hot debate on how safe they are to drink. Loaded with caffeine, on their own they can cause heart palpitations, severe headaches, and insomnia. And when they’re paired with alcohol? They can result in a state known as ‘wide-awake drunk’ that encourages risky behaviours like drinking and driving.
Toronto Public Health would like to see an end to the energy drink and alcohol combo, at least on public property and during city events. They’re asking public officials to ban the sale of energy drinks to individuals applying for a liquor permit, and they want to make sure these beverages aren’t found at public functions and small personal gatherings.
With energy drink and alcohol combos found on bar menus across Canada, why take the steps to ban these popular cocktails? Recent research out of Australia has shown that people who mix energy drinks with alcohol actually drink more than they normally would because the energy drink is masking the effects of the alcohol. Alcohol can slow down your reflexes and affect your coordination, while the energy drink will work to amp you up. This creates the wide-awake drunk state resulting in you thinking you’re completely fine, functional, and in sound judgement, never realizing just how drunk you actually are.
Not everyone is on board with the ban of energy drink and alcohol cocktails at Toronto events. A spokesperson for the Canadian Beverage Association doesn’t support the ban because other caffeinated beverages are mixed with alcohol to no great effect. But she’s comparing a can of cola that has 32 grams of caffeine with an energy drink that has over 80 grams of caffeine or more depending on the brand.
Health Canada has already banned energy drinks as an ingredient in pre-mixed alcohol drinks, and in order to sell in Canada, all energy drinks must have the label ‘Do not mix with alcohol.’
There’s no doubt that more research will come out to support the ban of energy drink and alcohol cocktails. In the meantime, Toronto Public Health would like the city to move forward in banning the sale of these drinks at any event where alcohol will be served.