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Letter to Pabst_Metropoulos

Letter to Pabst_Metropoulos

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Published by: jaya1256 on May 03, 2011
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05/03/2011

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DOUGLAS
F.
GANSLER.
AttorneyGeneral
KATHERINEWINFREE
ChiefDeputyAttorneyGeneral
JOHN
B.
HOWARD,JR.
DeputyAttorneyGeneral
STATEOFMARYLANDOFFICEOFTHEATTORNEYGENERAL
410-577036
TELECOPIERNo.
410·576-6311
WRITER'SDIRECTDIALNo.
April21,2011
ViaFacsimileandOvernightMail
Mr.CharlesDeanMetropoulosChairmanandChiefExecutiveOfficerPabstBrewingCompany9014HeritageParkway#308Woodridge,Illinois60517Re:BlastbyColt45DearMr.Metropoulos:We,theundersignedAttorneysGeneralofMaryland,Arizona,California,Connecticut,Guam,Idaho,Illinois,Iowa,Kentucky,Maine,Massachusetts,NewMexico,Ohio,Oklahoma,Tennessee,UtahandWashington,andtheCityAttorneyofSanFrancisco,writetoexpressourseriousconcernsoveryourcompany'snewflavoredmaltbeverage,BlastbyColt45.Youofferthisproductinfruitflavorsofgrape,strawberrylemonade,strawberrywatermelon,andblueberrypomegranate,withanalcoholconcentrationof12%(ABV)inbrightlycolored23.5ouncecans.At12%ABVina23.5ouncecontainer,onecanofBlastconsumedonasingleoccasionisabingedrinkingepisode.Asexplainedbelow,webelievethemanufactureandmarketingofthisflavored"bingeinacan"posesagravepublicsafetythreatandisirresponsible.WealsoareconcernedthatthetargetmarketforallsizecontainersofBlast,whichyourcompanydescribesasages21-29,1willalsoincludepersonsunderthelegaldrinkingage,inviolationofstatelaw.Astandardservingofalcoholisanydrink(whetherbeer,wine,ordistilledspirits)thatcontains0.6fluidouncesor14gramsof"pure"ethylalcohol.
2
One23.5-ouncecanofBlastwith12%ABVthuscontains4.7servingsofalcohol.Asaresult,consumingasinglecanofBlastononeoccasionconstitutes"bingedrinking,"whichisdefinedasmendrinkingfive(andwomendrinkingfour)ormorealcoholservingsinabouttwohours.
3
Suchexcessivedrinkingtypically
1
PabstDistributorWebcast,availableat
2
See
3
See
 
Mr.CharlesDeanMetropoulosApril21,2011Page2raisesaperson'sbloodalcoholconcentration(BAC)to0.08gramspercentormore.
4
Italsotypicallyresultsinacuteintoxicationthatcanbeharmfulforavarietyofreasons,includingimpairedbrainfunctionresultinginpoorjudgment,reducedreactiontime,lossofbalanceandmotorskills,andslurred
speech.'
Comaanddeathcanoccurifalcoholisconsumedrapidlyandinlargeamounts.
6
Giventhesedangers,theCentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention(CDC)recentlydeclaredbingedrinkingtobeamajorpublichealthproblemintheUnitedStates.TheCDCcalculatesthatbingedrinkersaccountformorethanhalfofthe79,000annualalcohol-relateddeathsintheU.S.andfortwo-thirdsofthe2.3millionyearsoftotalpotentiallifelostin2001-2005.Bingedrinkingincreasesthechancesofmotorvehiclecrashes,violenceagainstothers,HIVandsexuallytransmitteddiseases,unplannedpregnancy,suddeninfantdeathsyndrome,andfetalalcoholspectrumdisorders.'Thesehealthrisksposeaparticularthreattoyouth,giventhatabout90%ofthealcoholconsumedbyAmericansunderage21iswhilebingedrinking.fTheCDCreportsthatthebingedrinkingprevalencefor18-24yearolds,whichincludesaportionofBlast'spurportedtargetmarketof21-29yearolds,is25.6%.9
It
isourunderstandingthatBlastisacarbonatedproductdesignedtobeconsumedwhileitiscold.Therefore,aftertheconsumeropensthecan,thereisonlyashortperiodoftimebeforetheproductwillloseitsoptimaltemperatureandcarbonation.Ifanindividualconsumesa23.5ouncecanofBlastasitisintendedtobeconsumed-drinkingtheentirecanonasingleoccasion-heorshewillhaveengagedinbingedrinking,puttinghimselforherselfatriskofseriousinjuryandotherhealthandsafetyproblems.Blast'spackagingandmarketingimpliedlyrepresentthattheproductisfittobeconsumedasasingle-serving,ready-to-drinkalcoholicbeverage,
10
wheninfactasinglecancontainsnearlyfiveservingsofalcohol,anddoingsowouldbedangerous.Itspackagingandpromotionasasingle-servingbeveragehavethecapacitytomisleadconsumersintobelievingthattheyareconsumingone,oratmosttwo,servingsofalcohol.
See,e.g.,CanandaiguaWineCo.,
114F.T.C.349(1991);
AlliedDomecqSpirits
&
WineAmericas,Inc.,etaI.,
127F.T.C.368
(1999);AvalonIndustriesInc.,
83F.T.C.1728(1974).InamessageprintedontheBlastcan,yourcompanytellsconsumersto"Pleasedrinkresponsibly,"andonthePabstwebsiteyoutellconsumerstodrinkalcohol"carefullyandin
4
1d.
S
See
http://www.cdc.gov/aJcohol/fags.htm#bingeOrinking.
6
1
d.
7
See
http://www.cdc.gov/FeatureslVitaISigns/BingeOrinkingj).
8
See
9
10
Weunderstandthatthebeverageindustryrecognizes24ouncecontainersas"singleserve."
See,e.g.,
"YuenglingtoIntroduce24ouncecans,"accessedonApr.5,2011at:http://beemews.org/2010/09/yuengling-to-introduce-24-oz-cans/;"Corona'CanDo'withNew24-0uncePackages,"accessedonApr.5,2011at:http://www.crownimportsllc.comilatestnews/pdflCXCL240zCansRls.pdf;and"BreweryQuicklyInstalls24oz.CanLinetoIncreaseShareofSingleServeMarket,"accessedonApr.5,2011athttp://www.packagingdigest.com/article/512066-Breweryquicklyinstalls24ozcanlinetoincreaseshareofsingleservemarket.php.
 
Mr.CharlesDeanMetropoulosApri121,2011Page3moderation."However,yourcompanyfailstoindicatehowaconsumercouldresponsiblydrinka23.5ouncecanofBlastwith12%ABV.Infact,thePabstwebsitecontainsalink,underthetopicof"Responsibility,"called"KnowYourLimit-Intoximeters"whereavisitortothesitemaycalculateestimatedBACbyenteringthenumberofservings,thetypeofalcoholbeverage,theamountoftimeoverwhichthebeverageisconsumed,alongwiththeconsumer'sgenderandweight.Asitturnsout,thedrop-downmenuincludesneitherBlastnoranyother12%ABVbeverageandthereforeprovidesnoguidanceonhowtoapplythetooltoa23.5-ounceservingofa12%ABVbeverage.
II
Indeed,despitethecompany'sadmonitiontopurchaserstodrinkresponsibly,theproduct'sdesignpromotesexcessiveconsumption.Moreover,wehaveseriousconcernsaboutBlastbeingmarketedtounderagepersons.Inadditiontoofferingthishighalcoholflavoredmaltbeverageinyouth-friendlyflavorsofgrape,strawberry,lemonade,andwatermelon("madewithrealjuice"),Pabsthaschosenasitscelebrityspokesperson,hip-hop/rapmusicartist,SnoopDogg,whoispopularamongpersonsunder21andwhosepromotionalvideosforBlastareaccessibletoviewersofallagesonsocialmediasitessuchasYouTubeandTwitter.
12
WealsoareawareofconcernsthatPabst'smarketingofBlastistargetingyoungAfrican-Americans.
13
Forallofthesereasons,weurgeyoutotakeimmediatestepstosignificantlyreducethenumberofservingsofalcoholpresentedtoconsumersinasingleservingcontainersoastoeliminatetheseriouspublicsafetyrisksposedbythis"binge-in-a-can"product.WealsoaskthatPabsttakestepstoensurethatthemarketingofthisproductdoesnotexpresslyorimpliedlytargetanaudiencethatisunderthelegaldrinkingage.Wearehopefulyouwilltakeswiftandresponsibleactioninthisimportantmatter.Sincerely,
~1~
DouglasF.GanslerAttorneyGeneralofMaryland
II
ThePabstwebsite,http://www.pabstbrewingco.com/footer/responsibility/.providesalinktohttp://www.intox.comldrinkwheel.aspx.Fromthechoicesoffered,itappearsthebestwaytocalculateBACresultingfromdrinkinga23.5-ouncecanofBlastwith12%ABVistoenter"5"fornumberofservingsand"tablewine"whichcontainsapproximately12%ABV.Havingdoneso,a150-poundwomanwhoplanstoconsumeonecanofBlastovertwohours(ora175-poundmanwhoplanstoconsumethesameamountoveronehour)wouldlearnthattheresultingestimatedBACis.09gramsper210litersofbreath(or100m!ofblood),atwhichleveleachpersoncouldbeconvictedofdrivingwhileintoxicatedinallstates,andwouldhavemorethantwicetheBAClevelofimpairment(.04)recognizedbytheAmericanMedicalAssociation.
Jd.
12
See,e.g.,
http://www.youtube.com/user/BlastbyCo!t#p/a/u/l/381ddJjCPgY;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyiMB7VKiKY&feature=playerembedded;andhttp://twitter.comlblastbycolt.
13
See,e.g.,"ActivistComplainsAboutPabst's'Blast,"accessedApr.5,2011onhttp://www.beverageworld.com/index.php?option=comcontent&view=article&id=39029&catid=3&Itemid=173;and"TruthMinistaPutsSnoopDogonBlast!,"accessedApr.5,2011http://blacktalkradionetwork.com/video/truth-minista-puts-snoop-dogg.

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