Reporting Carol D’Auria
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NEW YORK (1010 WINS/CBS 2/WCBS 880) – Sen. Charles Schumer on Wednesday called on the State Liquor Authority to ban caffeinated alcoholic drinks, including Four Loko, from being sold in New York.
Four Loko, which is popular among college students, comes in a 23.5 ounce can and is equal to drinking three beers, a can of Red Bull and a shot of espresso. Many of the flavors contain 12 percent alcohol by volume, making it easy for those with even the highest level of tolerance to become intoxicated.
The drinks are sold in a variety of fruit flavors, packaged inside brightly-colored cans and cost only about $2.50 each.
Schumer describes Four Loko a death wish disguised as an energy drink.
“They provide the drinker with increased stamina and energy that allows the person to continue drinking past the point where you’d normally stop,” Schumer said.
Jacqueline Celestino, grandmother of Nicole Lynn Celestino, a 17-year-old from Long Island who passed away after drinking Four Loko last August, joined Schumer in the fight to ban the drink.
“They’re calling ‘liquid cocaine,’ that’s how quick the effect is on the drinker,” Celestino said.
In July, Schumer called on the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the safety of these drinks. The agency has yet to approve or determine that caffeine in alcoholic beverages is “generally recognized as safe.”
In a letter to the State Liquor Authority, Schumer states that since the FDA still has not approved or determined that caffeine in alcoholic beverages is “generally recognized as safe” this allows New York to implement a ban on their sale.
“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. While we wait for the Food and Drug Administration to Act, we need to take matters into our own hands here in New York and ban their sale,” Schumer said in a press release.
Michigan and Oklahoma have already banned Four Loko, while a number of other states and cities have considered instituting a ban.
Ramapo College banned the drink last month after six students were hospitalized after drinking the beverage.