A Boston city councilor is calling for a hearing on Four Loko, the potent brew of caffeine and alcohol that has raised concerns on college campuses, where some students have dubbed it "blackout in a can."
"This is a situation when you know a young person is going to die at some point if we don't get this out of the marketplace," said Councilor John Connolly, who has asked for the hearing, along with co-sponsor Councilor Mark Ciommo.
The order asking for the hearing calls for a council committee to "investigate and examine the health risks posed to Boston residents by Four Loko and like caffeinated alcoholic beverages."
Connolly said the city could take a number of different approaches. It could, for example, ban Four Loko sales; persuade local retailers to voluntarily ban the product; or work with colleges and universities to get the product banned on campuses.
Following high-profile cases in which college students in Washington and New Jersey were hospitalized after drinking the malt beverage at parties, administrators at schools across the region, including Harvard, Northeastern, and Boston College, warned recently that Four Loko's heady combination of alcohol and caffeine poses serious risks, the Globe has reported.
Washington state has decided to ban the beverage, after an incident in which nine Central Washington University students had to be hospitalized.
The company that manufactures Four Loko, Phusion Projects, says its drink is safe, with an alcohol content on par with some premium beers and about as much caffeine as a large cup of coffee. It says there is nothing inherently dangerous in the combination of alcohol and caffeine, pointing to drinks like Irish coffee and rum and cola that have been consumed for years, the Globe reported.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more