AGs take issue with new alcoholic drink

BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, along with 16 other state attorneys general and a San Francisco city attorney, has asked Pabst Brewing Company to stop selling its new flavored malt beverage.

Gansler sent a five-page letter to Pabst on Thursday, asking the company to cease production of the new Blast by Colt 45.

The attorneys general say the beverage is currently marketed and packaged as a "binge-in-a-can," and targets black youth in particular.

According to Gansler's office, Pabst introduced the drink earlier this month in flavors including grape, strawberry lemonade, strawberry watermelon and blueberry pomegranate. The beverages have an alcohol concentration of 12 percent and are packaged in brightly colored 23.5-ounce single-serving cans.

Each single serving contains the equivalent of nearly five servings of alcohol, according to the Maryland Attorney General's Office. Anyone who consumes a can of Blast within an hour will have engaged in binge drinking as defined by public health authorities, it said.

Not only does Pabst make the drink in youth-friendly flavors, the attorneys general say, but the company also has chosen rapper Snoop Dogg as its celebrity spokesman for the beverage.

"At a time when we're fighting to prevent underage and binge drinking, we call upon Pabst to rethink the dangers posed by Blast, promoted by a popular hip-hop celebrity, as a 'binge-in-a-can' in sweet flavors and bright colors aimed at the youngest drinkers," Gansler said in a statement.

"I hope our letter asking Pabst to take swift and responsible action will also be heeded by other companies who produce these unsafe 'supersized' alcopops."

In their letter to Pabst, the attorneys general urge the company to take steps to significantly reduce the number of servings of alcohol contained in a single can. They also ask that Pabst take a look at its marketing of the product to make sure it does not expressly or implicitly target an underage audience.

The attorneys general for Arizona, California, Connecticut, Guam, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Washington, along with the city attorney of San Francisco, all signed the letter.

Pabst issued the following statement through New York public relations firm Kekst and Co.:

"Blast is only meant to be consumed by those above legal drinking age and does not contain caffeine. As with all Pabst products, our marketing efforts for Blast are focused on conveying the message of drinking responsibly. To that end, the alcohol content of Blast is clearly marked on its packaging, we are encouraging consumers to consider mixing Blast with other beverages or enjoy it over ice, and we are offering a special 7 ounce bottle for those who prefer a smaller quantity, among other important initiatives," the company said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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