Mass. To Restrict Sales of Popular Beverage Four Loko

The state will restrict sales of the popular and potent alcoholic beverage Four Loko, as Boston city councilors consider their own ban of the controversial drink, the Boston Herald reports.

Available in nine flavors and for the student-friendly price of $3 for a 23.5-ounce can, Loko contains 12 percent alcohol by volume, about the same amount as a bottle of wine. But what has convinced critics that it is bad news is its other ingredient: caffeine.

The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission said yesterday it will file an emergency regulation next Monday to control sales of caffeinated alcoholic drinks that are classified as malt beverages, WBZ-TV reported.

Meanwhile, City Councilor John Connolly told the Herald he will call for a hearing to explore a city ban of such drinks. “You look at how many college kids we have in Boston,” said Connolly, who is leading the charge along with colleague Mark Ciommo. “Somebody is going to die here.”

Four Loko said in a statement it is “disappointed” by the proposed city ban “because we know curbing alcohol abuse will not be accomplished by singling out a lone product.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino supports banning the beverage statewide, said his spokeswoman. Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington have banned sales of the drink, and Connecticut liquor wholesalers have agreed to voluntarily suspend shipments.

Student-run newspapers at Tufts and Northeastern universities have reported on students being hospitalized after drinking the concoction.