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Colt 45's fruit flavored Blast drink comes under fire

By Julia Talanova, CNN
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Is Blast alcohol drink targeting youth?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Blast is a fruity new blend boasting twice the alcohol
  • The drink resembles a soda, but has 12% alcohol
  • Rapper Snoop Dogg is endorsing the fruity drink
  • The drink's marketing outrages some politicians and advocacy groups
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New York (CNN) -- The makers of Colt 45 malt liquor have stirred up a controversy with their new beverage that some fear will encourage kids to drink.

Blast is a fruity new blend boasting twice the alcohol as Pabst Brewing Co.'s original malt liquor.

The drink in a colorful 23.5-ounce can resembles soda pop but has an alcohol content of 12%, more potent than a typical can of beer.

"Colt 45 makers are raising the alcohol level from the already high 6% to the even higher 12%, and enticing young people with hip hop themes and lollipop flavors," said Paul Porter of Industry Ears, a think tank that promotes justice in the media.

Porter said the company is "expanding its market with our children."

Blast joins the ranks of some high octane drinks such as Four Loko, Joose and Tilt that came under fire late last year for advertising to underage consumers.

Popular rapper Snoop Dogg is the front man endorsing Blast who -- according to a distributor marketing video -- "has the ability to take Colt 45 brands to a whole new level."

But the brand's marketing tactics have outraged some politicians and advocacy groups who question whom the company is really targeting.

"It's disappointing to see him and the utilization of hip hop music to promote an alcoholic beverage that is so dangerous to youth today," said Jorge Castillo, Advocacy and Outreach manager at Marin Institute.

In a letter, New York City Councilman Robert Jackson asked Snoop Dogg to withdraw his endorsement and look at this from a father's perspective.

"I'm sure that you don't want people marketing to your children to have them drink this alcohol pop," Jackson said in a letter. He said he has not received a reply, but plans to follow up with the rapper.

Blast is gaining momentum.

"Last weekend I sold about 12 cans; they're becoming really popular," said Gurcharn Singh, who owns a deli near New York University campus.

Singh recalled a few cases where underage youth tried to buy the alcoholic beverage.

"Blast is only meant to be consumed by those above legal drinking age," Jon Sayer, chief marketing officer of Pabst Brewing Co., said in a statement.

"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."

Students around NYU say the drink's attractive design and low price could potentially be dangerous for a young consumer.

"It's bigger than a normal can size, people don't take that into account when they're drinking it," said student Ashima Talwar.

Student Sadik Uddin said it does not look like an alcoholic drink.

"They dressed it up to look like a soda drink. I think the design is pretty cool. I would probably assume it's a sports drink and gone for it," the 21-year-old said.

 
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