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French parliament takes new swipe at energy drinks with tax

PARIS (Reuters) - French parliamentarians voted for a new tax on energy drinks containing caffeine and the amino acid taurine on Thursday, a second attempt to impose a charge on the products after the first was overturned in court.

Dubbed the Red Bull amendment in local media after the world's most popular energy drink, members of parliament voted to approve a tax of one euro per liter from next year on drinks that contain at least 0.22 grams of caffeine per liter, or 0.3 grams of taurine.

The new tax, which is aimed at promoting health by limiting the consumption of such drinks, does not affect ordinary coffee.

A similar vote was overturned by the constitutional court last year and the new tax could also be challenged in court by the center-right opposition, which was against the measure.

The latest amendment was launched by Socialist member of parliament Gerard Bapt, a doctor, who argued that French studies have shown the drinks can cause heart problems and neuropsychological problems.

Red Bull, made by the company of the same name, which is headquartered in Austria, has been on sale in France since 2008 after being banned for 12 years due to health authorities' concerns about taurine.

Red Bull says on its website that health authorities around the world have concluded its drink is safe.

The American Medical Association said in June it would support a ban on the marketing of energy drinks to children under 18, saying the beverages could cause heart problems and other health issues.

(Reporting by Emile Picy, writing by Geert De Clercq, Editing by Patrick Lannin)

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