Anheuser-Busch to quit selling caffeinated alcohol

Thursday, June 26, 2008 | 5:44 p.m. CDT; updated 12:06 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

ST. LOUIS — Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. will quit selling caffeinated alcoholic drinks as part of a legal settlement with several state attorneys general, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said today.

Anheuser-Busch was marketing its caffeinated drinks to minors and misrepresenting the drinks’ health benefits, Cuomo said. He was among 11 attorneys general who reached a settlement with the nation’s largest brewer.

Anheuser-Busch did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has long been dogged by accusations that its marketing for the caffeinated alcoholic drinks targets underage drinkers. The St. Louis-based company has steadfastly denied the charges.

In February, the attorneys general subpoenaed documents from Anheuser-Busch related to its marketing efforts for the alcoholic energy drinks, which include the “Tilt” and “Bud Extra” brands. The investigation was sparked by concerns that the drinks were targeted to teenagers and young adults already drawn to highly caffeinated drinks like Red Bull.

Documents reviewed in the case appeared to validated that concern, according to Cuomo’s statement. A news conference involving other attorneys general was planned for later Thursday.

“Drinking is not a sport, a race, or an endurance test. Adding alcohol to energy drinks sends exactly the wrong message about responsible drinking, most especially to young people,” Cuomo said in the statement. “This agreement keeps these dangerous products off our shelves and makes it clear that targeting underage consumers with advertisements for alcohol will not be tolerated.”

Anheuser-Busch also agreed to pay $200,000 to the states that investigated the brewer’s practices. In addition to New York, those states include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico and Ohio.

Cuomo said the states continue to investigate other companies selling alcoholic energy drinks.

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