Illinois Bans Ephedra

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Illinois Bans Ephedra

CHICAGO -- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (pictured) signed what he called the nation's first, but not last statewide ephedra ban Sunday.

The governor stood with the parents of an Illinois teenager who died last fall after using the supplement and sponsoring legislators to advocate a broader ban on the diet supplement blamed for nearly 120 deaths, the Associated Press reported.

The ban won unanimous support in both houses of the Legislature. The herbal supplement is sometimes marketed as an athletic performance enhancer but has been linked to heart attacks. The drive for legislation in Illinois began last September with the death of 16-year-old Sean Riggins, a Lincoln football player whose father said was seeking an edge to make the first-string team.

A Logan County coroner's jury ruled that the pills constricted Riggins' blood vessels and gave him a rapid heart beat and high blood pressure, leading to a heart attack.

The supplement often is packaged in small pouches and sold as a performance enhancer on counters at convenience stores, the report said. The ban for Illinois stores took effect immediately.

Last week, nutritional supplement retailer General Nutrition Centers (GNC) said it would stop selling products containing ephedra. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signed a law banning the sale of all diet supplements to children under 18. That age limit extends to all diet supplements regardless of ephedra content.