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Toronto considering ban on energy drink sales to minors

The city of Toronto's board of health has given the green light for a study on banning the sale of popular energy drinks to minors. If approved, it would eventually mean a ban on the sale of drinks such as Red Bull and Monster to people under the age of 19 at all city-owned buildings and venues.

According to reports filed with Canada's federal health department Health Canada, popular energy drinks are suspected of causing the deaths of three teenagers in the past dozen years. They have also been linked to serious side effects in 35 other Canadians, such as an irregular heartbeat and amnesia.

Recently reports also emerged of 13 deaths in the U.S. also possibly linked to energy drinks.

Some Canadian provinces want limits on the sale of energy drinks and some are calling for a ban on the sale to minors. One of those in favor of such a ban is Toronto councillor Glenn de Baeremaeker.

"If you're seven years old or 10 years old or 15 years old, when you go into the store, they don't sell you cigarettes. They shouldn't sell you energy drinks," said de Baeremaeker.

For now, Toronto's chief medical officer has been given the okay to study such a ban. If approved, it would mean the prohibition of drinks such as Red Bull and Monster to people under 19 at all city-owned buildings and venues, including the Canadian National Exhibition, parks, sports facilities and arenas. It would also prohibit the sale to minors at convenience stores.

But those in the beverage industry are fighting back, including Jim Goetz of the Canadian Beverage Association.

"You could drive a car, but you couldn't buy a beverage that contains half as much caffeine as coffee. It's a little bit extreme," said Goetz.

Industry representatives say there is sufficient labeling on energy drinks indicating they're not recommended for children, pregnant women or people sensitive to caffeine and they are not sold in schools nor is the marketing directed at people under 18.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.