By Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer has joined the fight to ban caffeinated, booze-infused drinks, which he says are deadly.
Schumer called a press conference at his office Wednesday to urge the State Liquor Authority to ban beverages like Four Loko, Joose and Monster Assault.
The drinks, which typically contain several cups of coffee worth of caffeine and more alcohol than a bottle of beer "raise unique and disturbing safety concerns," he said in a statement.
"Four Loko, and drinks like it, are a toxic, dangerous mix of caffeine and alcohol, and they are spreading like a plague across the country," the statement read.
He cited one study that found that younger drinkers who mix alcohol and caffeine are twice as likely to ride with a drunk driver, be the victims of sexual assault, or be injured enough to need medical help.
He also faulted the beverage-makers for aggressively marketing to younger drinkers.
In a letter addressed to the chairman and commissioners of the SLA, Schumer urged the Authority to issue an "immediate ban" on the distribution and sale of the drinks in the state.
"While we wait for the Food and Drug Administration to Act, we need to take matters into our own hands here in New York and ban their sale," he said.
In July, Schumer asked the FDA to issue an evaluation of the products, but they have yet to do so, he said.
Because the FDA has never officially approved the addition of caffeine to alcoholic beverages as safe, he said the SLA has the authority to institute a ban.
The SLA said in a statement that it "shares the concerns raised by Senator Schumer" is is now evaluating its options.
FDA spokesman Michael Herndon said in a statement that the Administration's investigation into the drinks is still underway but that it has "concerns about their safety and legality" and that the decision "will be a high priority for the agency."