This is the 12% stuff
An Imperial Beach church is holding a "community conversation" on December 10 to discuss a ban on the Four Loko alcoholic beverage, which has been linked to deaths and binge-drinking problems.
The action comes a month after the attorneys general of 17 states asked Chicago-based Four Loko manufacturer Phusion Products to lower the alcohol content of its product. Previously, 20 states' attorneys general reached a $400,000 settlement with the company over the marketing and caffeine content of the drink, causing the company to remove caffeine from the ingredients last year.
The meeting is about "the impact of Four Loko on youth and the homeless in our community," said Rev. John Edwin Griffin of the Imperial Beach United Methodist Church.
"We're trying to create a movement at the community level" before approaching the city government, Griffin said. "We will deal with the city later." He added that the city has already expressed “an openness" to the matter.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has warned that ingesting a single 23.5-ounce can of the 12 percent alcohol Four Loko, approximately the same size and strength as a bottle of wine, constitutes a binge-drinking episode.
Critics of Four Loko say that the sweet carbonated beverage, which comes in flavors such as fruit punch and watermelon, appeals to underaged drinkers and resembles non-alcoholic energy drinks.
"We've found this Four Loko is actually marketed to younger people," Griffin said. "A lot of communities have banned it already…. An ordinance that we're interested in is like the one El Cajon passed. It's about the well-being of the whole city.”
Earlier this year, El Cajon began enforcing an ordinance that allows the city to revoke or restrict liquor licenses if a business sells alcohol to minors and people who are noticeably inebriated.
Lieutenant Dave Brown of the sheriff's department in Imperial Beach said he would be attending the meeting at Pastor Griffin’s request. Brown said many liquor stores and markets "are not allowed to sell the airplane bottles" of hard liquor and that the effort involves getting Four Loko and other similar beverages to be treated in the same way.
"It's too easy," Brown said of Four Loko. "Teenagers call it 'blackout in a can.'" Brown said that he has seen the stronger 14 percent alcohol versions of the beverage on sale in Imperial Beach.
"It's more than the homeless or the youth," Griffin said. "There are issues at Dunes Park. A person is able to go across the street to the liquor store, buy one, and they're pretty much intoxicated after that."
Sal Sadik of the Market to Market store on Seacoast Drive, which sells Four Loko and airplane bottles, said, “It's not a big seller" compared to craft beers. "Not here."
When asked if he would remove the drink from his shelves on request, he said no.
"You can't really control it," he said. "There are thousands of similar items." Sadik said that manufacturers should have limits placed on them, not the retailers.