(Hauppauge, NY-November 5, 2014) County Executive Steve signed into law legislation co-sponsored by Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory and 18th District County Legislator William Spencer that bans the sale of powdered caffeine to minors. It is the first ban on sale of powdered caffeine to minors adopted by any municipality in the country.
“I applaud Presiding Officer Gregory, Legislator Spencer and the Suffolk County Legislature for unanimously approving the adoption of legislation banning the sale of powdered caffeine to minors,” said County Executive Bellone. “Powdered caffeine is a dangerous substance that can kill as evidenced by the death of eighteen year old Logan J. Stiner of LaGrange Ohio. I support this ban on the sale to minors and thank the legislature for continually taking steps to protect Suffolk County residents.”
“I want to thank County Executive Bellone for his quick action to sign this bill into law,” said PO Gregory. “Powdered caffeine is a dangerous health threat to everyone, but especially minors. A single teaspoon of powdered caffeine is the equivalent of 25 cups of coffee, and the potential for overdose and abuse is a clear and present danger. We are hopeful the FDA will adopt a similar ban and carefully regulate dosage recommendations as well as requiring prominent warning labels.”
“I add my thanks to County Executive Bellone for his rapid action on this bill,” stated Legislator William R. Spencer, M.D. “The bottom line is that a simple mistake in how powdered caffeine products are used can lead to loss of life. The sooner we get this ban in place the better the chances we have to avoid a tragedy from an overdose of powdered caffeine. These products entice consumers by promising to give extra energy, focus, weight loss, and even increased sports abilities, without addressing the significant dangers that they pose. The health risks are especially hazardous for our youth and even small amounts can lead to overdose.
“As we wait for the federal and state government to act on protecting our children’s health, we have done what we can do by prohibiting the sale of powdered caffeine to minors. Caffeine is an addictive chemical, and with the concentrated powder form we have a higher level of poisoning concern for our children who may use this product as a recreational drug.”
In a letter of support, Suffolk County Department of Health Services Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken reported that the Department of Health Services had issued a Health Bulletin in August of 2014 warning of the dangers of powdered pure caffeine. “I fully support the resolution to prohibit the sale of powdered caffeine to minors in Suffolk County,” said Dr. Tomarken. “The substance is potentially dangerous and should be avoided.”
Presiding Officer Gregory and Legislator Spencer are looking to raise the issue to a national level. They will be part of a delegation that will meet in Washington D.C. in early December to lobby the FDA on classifying pure caffeine as a drug and implementing protective regulations including the ban of the sale of the product to minors. Members of the delegation have been working with the family of Logan J. Stiner, the senior at a high school in LaGrange, Ohio, and a state-qualified wrestler, who tragically lost his life as a result of overdosing on pure caffeine at the age of 18.
The legislation drew wide support from health care professionals, including Suffolk County Health Commissioner James Tomarken, and also was supported by the Long Island Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.
“It is highly concentrated, and therefore it is easy to mistakenly use too much, which could result in an accidental overdose,” said Dr. Tomarken. “I fully support the resolution to prohibit the sale of powdered caffeine to minors in Suffolk County.”
"Our youth are our most important resource and we feel compelled to advocate for their health and welfare,” said Wilma Holmes Tootle, president om the Long Island Chapter of 100 Black Women. “We consider the passage of the bill to prohibit the sale of powered caffeine to them a great deed and are pleased with the action taken by the Suffolk County Legislature."
Wilma Holmes Tootle, president of the Long Island Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, sent in a letter of support to PO Gregory prior to the adoption of the law. “Our youth are our most important resource and we must preserve and protect them to ensure that they have a viable future,” she said. “As the U.S Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about this potentially dangerous product, we applaud your leadership in the fight to save our youth.”