Powdered Alcohol is Coming Your Way: Where Do You Stand?

by Gary Gilles

Powder-Alcohol_PalcoholAs if we didn’t already have enough alcohol options available to us, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau recently approved a new, but controversial product called Palcohol. It’s a dried form of alcohol that can be mixed with water to create liquid alcohol. Packaged in easy-to-carry pouches, powdered alcohol will be available in five flavors: vodka, rum, cosmopolitan, powderita (which is like a margarita) and lemon drop.  One packet of powdered alcohol mixed with five ounces of liquid creates an instant cocktail equivalent to one standard mixed drink or one shot of vodka. The product was approved in March of 2015 and could show up in retail stores as soon as this summer or fall.

Parental concerns

As you might imagine, many parents have expressed a concern that this type of product has great potential for misuse among underage youth. Some fear that young people may try to snort the powder or mix it with alcohol to make a stronger drink. Others believe that powdered alcohol will be easier to conceal and sneak into venues such as movie theaters, parties and even school and further increase the illicit use of alcohol among youth. Drug and alcohol abuse already ranks among the top 10 national health concerns for children and teens according to parents that are surveyed annually.

In May of 2015, a national poll was conducted by University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital to determine adult opinion on government approval of Palcohol. Sixty percent of adults surveyed favored a complete ban of powdered alcohol in their state. Eight-four percent favored a ban on online sales of the product and a similar number thought powdered alcohol should be restricted from social networking sites.

To date, three states have banned the sale of powdered alcohol and there are many bills that have been introduced in various state legislatures to ban or restrict the sale of Palcohol. If a state doesn’t ban or restrict the product, then stores licensed to sell alcohol will be able to sell it.

The other side of the issue

Proponents of powdered alcohol don’t see why there is such an outcry among parents. They say that Palcohol is simply an alternative form of alcohol that will be regulated just like liquid alcohol and will not be sold to those under the legal drinking age of any state. It will only sold by merchants who are licensed to sell alcohol.

The makers of Palcohol claim that the powdered version has many conveniences for adults who might want an alternative to liquid alcohol. For example, it can be conveniently transported when traveling, hiking or camping without worry of bottle breakage. It’s also a complete one-item product that only requires water versus several ingredients.

The possibility that youth will snort the powder is unlikely, first because the amount of powder needed to equal one standard drink would be far more than any reasonable person would snort. Another deterrent to snorting Palcohol is that it would apparently create a significant burning sensation to the nasal passage.

Some say that a ban on powdered alcohol may actually backfire by increasing demand among youth for the product. The “forbidden” is always appealing to young people who want adult-like privileges.

Weighing in on the issue

So, what do you think? Is powdered alcohol something you would like to see banned or restricted in your state? If so, what do you see as the greatest consequence for youth and others?

Or, do you see powdered alcohol as simply another alcohol alternative that parents need to monitor so that their underage children don’t use it? Is the concern overstated? Would banning Palcohol actually increase demand among youth?

Post your comments below.

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