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New CMA policy leads to energy-drink ban in Ottawa

Just three months after the CMA's General Council called for "a ban on the sale of energy drinks to Canadians younger than the legal drinking age," an Ottawa city councillor has acted on the advice by having the drinks removed from all vending machines in city-owned recreation centres.

Councillor Stephen Blais told the Ottawa Citizen the move was a "no-brainer" given the recommendation issued by the CMA last August.

"That's how bad the CMA believes [these drinks] are for young people," he said. "I'm glad the city was able to move so quickly on this as we promote healthy living."

The CMA has been raising concerns about the growing popularity of the high-caffeine beverages among young Canadians since 2007, when it called for the development of regulations governing "the composition and concentration of ingredients in energy drinks."

CMAJ has also been vocal. In a 2010 editorial, it wrote: "Although many of us regularly enjoy tea, coffee and other caffeinated beverages, most of us have enough common sense not to willingly allow children to consume 10 cans of cola in one sitting - the amount of caffeine in 500 mL of some energy drinks."

The editorial called for strict labelling rules for the drinks and advertising that carries warnings similar to those for caffeine pills. It also said none of the advertising should be aimed at children.

CMA President Louis Hugo Francescutti agreed with Blais' assessment that the move was a no-brainer. "Those are the exact words I would have used," he said.

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