Keep potent, boozy drinks out of young hands, substance abuse experts urge

Educators, substance abuse experts and industry leaders are hoping to jump-start a conversation across Canada about keeping pre-mixed drinks loaded with alcohol, caffeine and sugar off shelves and away from young people.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Abuse is testifying at a House of Commons committee today about how best to restrict the sale and consumption of the controversial beverages.

The centre says making the drinks with ethyl alcohol, rather than fermented malt, would make them more expensive and limit where they can be sold.

A national outcry about how accessible the drinks can be erupted earlier this year following the death of 14-year-old Athena Gervais in Laval, Que.

While a toxicology report has not yet been released, a caffeinated alcoholic beverage sold in Quebec has been singled out as a possible factor.

Today's hearing in Ottawa is the first of two confirmed meetings on the topic so far, with another scheduled for Wednesday.