NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rapper Snoop Dogg is promoting a new, caffeine-laced alcoholic drink that has triggered calls for its ban even before it goes on sale next month.
The drink, called Blast by Colt 45, is manufactured by Pabst Brewing Company and scheduled for release on April 5. A promotional video features Snoop Dogg posing with scantily clad young women at a photo shoot.
The 23.5 ounce drink has a 12 percent alcohol content and comes in grape, raspberry watermelon, strawberry lemonade and blueberry pomegranate flavors.
Critics say it is a hazard for young people because it can be confused with soft drinks.
"You look at this product, and you think it's a fruit drink," said John Challis, senior vice president of Daytop Treatment Services, aimed at rehabilitating substance abusers. "They (breweries) are creating a demand, and then offering the supply."
New York City Councilman Robert Jackson recently called for Blast to be banned in New York.
"Blast, along with similar drinks, is specifically targeted to younger people," said Jackson's aide, Martin Collins.
"In the short term, a drink like this masks and shrouds the effects of alcohol. That's dangerous for our young people."
Another caffeinated alcoholic beverage, Four Loko, made national headlines last October when nine college students in Washington State were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning after drinking it and similar beverages.
A month later, the Food and Drug Administration warned that caffeinated alcohol drinks were unsafe. New York and other states banned the sale of Four Loko. In response, its maker, Chicago-based Phusion Projects, said that it would no longer add caffeine to Four Loko. The new caffeine-free version is now on store shelves.
"Blast is the successor to Four Loko. The shiny, florescent cans attract young people's eyes, and it is stocked in shelves next to drinks like Coca Cola," Collins said.
Pabst did not respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr., editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)