TRENTON – Senator Nicholas Scutari and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (both D-Middlesex, Somerset and Union) today introduced legislation to prohibit the sale of pure, 100 percent caffeine powder to minors.
The legislation comes after the death of an 18-year-old high school student in Ohio caused by an overdose of the potent caffeine powder. The student, Logan Stiner, had 70 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood in his system, according to published reports. A typical coffee drinker would have 3 to 5 micrograms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July issued a warning advising consumers to avoid powdered pure caffeine, cautioning that even very small amounts can cause accidental overdose.
“Young people, and in particular young athletes, may be tempted to use this substance because of its perceived physical benefits, but the use of pure caffeine powder can have severe and tragic results,” said Senator Scutari. “One tablespoon has the caffeine equivalent of 20 cups of coffee, so even a small amount of the potent powder can be detrimental to a child’s health.”
“Ingesting pure caffeine is dangerous and potentially lethal,” said Assemblywoman Stender. “The sale of this drug to children should be treated like the hazardous substance that it is. By outlawing its sale to minors and establishing penalties and fines for violating the prohibition, we will send a message that we are serious about cracking down on offenders that engage in this activity and about keeping our children safe.”
Under the bill, a person who sells or gives to a person under the age of 18 powdered caffeine is a petty disorderly person, punishable by a fine of up to $500, a term of imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, or both. A person who commits a second or subsequent offense is a disorderly person, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a term of imprisonment not to exceed six months, or both.
In addition to fines and terms of imprisonment associated with being a petty disorderly or disorderly person, a person who violates the provisions this bill is liable to a civil penalty of not less than $250 for the first violation, not less than $500 for the second violation, and $1,000 for the third and each subsequent violation. For the purposes of the bill, “powdered caffeine” means a product containing 100% caffeine in powdered or crystalline form, and does not include caffeine pills, tablets or caplets containing 200 milligram or less of caffeine per dose, or coffee, tea or any other substance meant for human consumption containing some amount of caffeine, but which contain other ingredients or components.
The bill was introduced today in both houses.