Attorneys general from more than a dozen states are calling on Pabst, maker of the new highly alcoholic flavored drink “Blast,” to take the dangerous punch out of its product.
In a letter to Pabst CEO Charles Metropoulos, the attorneys general of 17 states, plus the city of San Francisco, demanded that the company reduce the alcoholic content of the drink and alter its marketing campaign, which they say currently targets underage drinkers.
“We believe the manufacture and marketing of this flavored ‘binge in a can’ poses a grave public safety threat and is irresponsible,” says the letter, written by the Attorney General of Maryland, Douglas Gansler.
The document criticizes Blast for its alcoholic content of 12% alcohol by volume (ABV), which in its 23.5-ounce can comes out to almost 5 servings per drink.
“Consuming a single can of Blast on one occasion constitutes ‘binge drinking’,” say the authors. “Binge drinking” is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as drinking 4 or more alcoholic beverages for women, and 5 or more for men, over a 2-hour period. At 4.7 servings of alcohol per can, Blast surpasses that limit for women, and comes within hurling distance for men.
Letter signatories also raise concerns that the product’s marketing campaign, which features videos of rapper Snoop Dogg endorsing the drink on Youtube, is geared toward young people. These videos, combined with its teen-targeted flavors, including raspberry, watermelon and strawberry lemonade, make the beverage appealing to underage drinkers, they say.
According to CDC, 90% of these illegal drinkers already participate in binge drinking.
The authors intend for their memo to reach beyond Pabst to all companies marketing products that promote unsafe drinking habits to youth.
“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,” said Gansler in a statement.
The Marin Institute of California, an alcohol watchdog, lauded the letter’s signatories.
“State law-enforcers heard the national outcry,” said Bruce Lee Livingston, executive director of the Institute, in a statement. “Supersized alcopop Blast is too big, too potent and marketed to youth,” he said.
Marin Institute launched a campaign in early April to bring the dangers of the malt liquor to the public’s attention.
Pabst holds that Blast is not intended for consumption by anyone under the age of 21, and that it may be consumed responsibly.
“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, according to AOL.
However, the AGs write that Pabst has not made a sufficient effort to ensure that Blast is consumed responsibly. They point out that, while Pabst’s website offers a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) calculator for some of its products, Blast is not among those drinks with a tool for determining how it will affect the drinker.
According to the state attorneys, significant change is needed in order to dilute the risks of the flavored drink.
“At a time when we’re fighting to prevent underage drinking and binge drinking, we call upon Pabst to rethink the dangers posed by Blast,” says Gansler.