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New York officials seek to ban alcoholic energy drinks

four loko

four loko Credit: Getty Images

New York officials want to KO a caffeinated alcoholic beverage that some say packs enough punch to be dangerous and potentially deadly.

“Four Loko, and drinks like it, are a toxic, dangerous mix of caffeine and alcohol, and they are spreading like a plague across the country,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said Wednesday in pressing for the state liquor authority to immediately ban the sale of the drinks.

Brands such as Four Loko and Joose have become popular drinks on college campuses, but reports of binge drinking and hospitalized students have led universities in New Jersey and Washington to ban the brew. Michigan and Oklahoma are the first states to prohibit their sale.

At a news conference Wednesday, Schumer appeared with the grandmother of an 18-year-old Long Island girl who died of cardiac arrest in August. That same day the teen had taken a diet pill and consumed Four Loko, a fruity-tasting malt beverage that contains up to 12 percent alcohol.

“It’s scary,” said the grandmother, Jackie Celestino of Smithtown.

Four Loko’s parent company, Phusion Projects based in Chicago, did not return calls for comment Wednesday, but in a news release last week, it looked to temper any bad buzz about its product by offering to work with schools to talk about alcohol abuse.

Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Queens) said he planned to introduce a bill today banning its sale in New York City.

A spokesman with the New York State Liquor Authority said Wednesday that it “shares the concerns raised” by Schumer and was evaluating his request.

The authority explained that state law doesn’t allow it to ban products that the Food and Drug Administration says are legal.

The FDA has been reviewing the effects of caffeine and alcohol over the past year, although a spokesman could not say Wednesday when its findings will be released.

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