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Illinois Gov. Signs Ephedra Ban

CHICAGO - Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed the nation's first statewide ban on ephedra and urged other states and the federal government to do the same.

Accompanying Blagojevich as he signed the ban, which took effect immediately, was the parents of a teenager who died of a heart attack last fall after using ephedra. The diet supplement has been blamed for nearly 120 deaths.

Ephedra drew national attention after officials investigating the February heat stroke death of Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler linked it to a diet pill containing ephedrine, ephedra's active ingredient. The herbal supplement is sometimes marketed as an athletic performance enhancer.

The drive for a ban in Illinois began last September with the death of 16-year-old Sean Riggins of Lincoln, whose father said he was taking the supplement to help make the first-string football team.

"We have to make sure that (young athletes) can no longer go to the store and buy ephedra as easily as they can chewing gum," Blagojevich said.

Riggins' parents, Debbie and Kevin Riggins, are working with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, in seeking a nationwide ban from the Food and Drug Administration.

Earlier this month, nutritional supplement retailer General Nutrition Centers said it would stop selling products containing ephedra. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signed a law last week banning the sale of all diet supplements to children under 18.
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