Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Phusion Projects, a Chicago-based company, have reached an agreement that will cease marketing campaigns of the popular alcoholic drink Four Loko on college campuses. Illinois was among 20 states that was part of the agreement.
The Attorney General accused Phusion Projects of directing their marketing toward minors, especially college students, by hiring models that were under 21 to promote the alcoholic beverage.
Phusion Projects has denied those charges but has agreed to only select models over 25 or who appear to be over 21 to promote the product. They have also agreed to not market the drink on college campuses except at licensed retailers and it can not use the “names, initials, logos, or mascots” of any school, college, university, student organization, sorority or fraternity in its promotional materials.
“The decision to not allow Four Loko to market on college campuses is a good one … Four Loko has done too much damage to students and university reputations since its marketing campaign started,” Pat Kennedy, a junior as ISU said. “The sooner students drop the Four Loko fad the better.”
“I think Four Lokos are a dangerous drink on college campuses and it could be good to stop marketing them” sophomore Annie Beckow added.
“While our company did not violate any laws and we disagree with the allegations of the State Attorneys General, we consider this agreement a practical way to move forward and an opportunity to highlight our continued commitment to ensuring that our products are consumed safely and responsibly only by adults 21 and over,” President of Phusion Projects Jim Sloan said in a published statement.
The beverage came under fire in 2010 when colleges and universities began to see harmful effects like injury and blackout from overconsumption and banned the drink due to the harmful combination of alcohol, caffeine, taurine and guarana — the four ingredients that gave the drink its name. Many universities and campuses began to ban the sales of the drink at this time.
In November of 2010 the FDA issued a warning citing that the addition of caffeine to alcoholic beverages is an “unsafe food additive” and can mask some of the sensory cues that individuals use to measure levels of intoxication. It was also cited as a “public health concern” and could not be kept on the market in current form.
In response, Phusion Projects removed the caffeine ingredients from the drink and relabeled the cans to display how much alcohol content was in each drink the following year, which kept it in production for the remaining states and was no longer marketed as an energy drink. Phusion Projects avoided federal seizure of the product.
Four Loko has been made popular among a young audience and has been linked to underage drinking and the culprit for many alcohol poisoning cases in high school and college students. Madigan says that the beverage promotes binge drinking which causes a dangerous level of substances in the body at one time.
Madigan considers the ban a victory for the public and the company and believes that the company will still be able to successfully produce other products in a safe manner.