LiveFree! is taking part in a national campaign to appeal to Phusion Projects (feel free to follow the link and share your opinion with the company), the company that makes Four Loko. Four Loko is a beverage that contains not only alcohol, but all of the common ingredients of energy drinks. It is sold in oversized 23.5 ounce cans in 47 states, including Florida. It carries a 12% alcohol content, which is considerably higher than the majority of the other alcoholic beverages it directly competes with, such as beer and wine.
The marketing plan for the product appears to be targeted directly at youth. The cans are brightly colored and poorly labeled as alcoholic beverages. The drinks are marketed virally, largely via social media, which further substantiates the claim that they are intended to be consumed by a younger demographic. Simply searching for “Four Loko” on FaceBook reveals that there are currently dozens of pages dedicated to the drink. By and large, the drinkers of this product are in fact youth, some of whom are under 21 years of age.
Targeting youth with a product that not only intoxicates the drinkers, but also wakes them up is a very dangerous proposition for both the young people who drink Four Loko and society at large. If you would like more information on the dangers of alcoholic energy drinks, please read our blog on the subject. As a result of the threat to our communities that this beverage represents, LiveFree! is joining forces with other like-minded groups to appeal to Jaisen Freeman, one of the co-founders of Phusion Projects. We are joining our voices r to implore Mr. Freeman to take this dangerous drink off of the market. We will be sending Mr. Freeman a copy of the letter signed by LiveFree!. We encourage you to do the same thing; the more times they receive this complaint, the more likely they are to take action to remove this product from the marketplace. We will also be sending a copy of the letter to the Food and Drug Administration asking that they take action to remove Four Loko from shelves.
Contacts for the Letter
Mr. Jaisen Freeman
Managing Partner & Co-Founder
Phusion Projects, LLC.
1658 N Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647-5651
Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.
Commissioner of Food and Drugs
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20993
Feel free to source a copy of the letter from this site. It was originally drafted by Arthur T. Dean.
On behalf of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and our more than 5,000 coalition members across the country, I am writing to urge you to remove Phusion Projects’s Four Loko product from the market.
From New York to Washington state, youth as young as 13 have ended up in the hospital after drinking Four Loko. Nicknamed “blackout in a can,” and rightly so, this dangerous drink contains 12 percent alcohol combined with high doses of caffeine and other ingredients commonly found in energy drinks. Combine that with the fact that these drinks look virtually indistinguishable from other non-alcoholic energy drinks and come in sugary sweet flavors, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Various studies have shown that caffeinated alcohol drinks are particularly dangerous because caffeine, a stimulant, masks the intoxicating effects of alcohol, and may lead to increased risk-taking. In fact, a study by Dr. Mary Claire O’Brien of Wake Forest University found that college students who mix alcohol and energy drinks engage in increased heavy episodic drinking and have twice as many episodes of weekly drunkenness. College students who report consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks also had significantly higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences, such as sexual assault and injury.
Furthermore, research shows that teenagers and young adults are the primary consumers of energy drinks. In fact, 31 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds and 34 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds reporting regular consumption of energy drinks. So, while your statement in response to the incident at Central Washington University claims that Four Loko is not targeted at underage drinkers, it’s hard to believe that they aren’t.
Four Loko flavors such as—lemon lime, blue raspberry, cranberry lemonade and watermelon—are sweet and attractive to young people. The drink’s infusion of caffeine, taurine and guarana is very much aligned with a number of energy drinks, which are incredibly popular with teens. Even the use of word-of-mouth viral and social marketing through the internet resonates with young people, who log more than an hour online each day pursuing social interests such as gaming, chatting or surfing.
It is hard to believe that Phusion Projects does not intentionally market to people under 21 when a product with the flavoring, marketing, and price point of Four Loko appears on the market. We will continue to do all we can to educate and prevent underage drinking. Now is your chance to really show you care about the health and well-being of our young people. Remove this obviously dangerous and irresponsible product from the market. CADCA, its members and families across the country will thank you for it.