In March 2014 the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved, and then retracted approval of, labels for a powdered alcohol product called Palcohol. Powdered alcohol’s many potential health risks (e.g. easy to conceal, snort, use to adulterate someone else’s drink, mix with caffeinated beverages, mix with liquid alcohol, or mix with a small amount of liquid) immediately raised alarm among legislators and public health advocates across the country. Parents, medical professionals, and law enforcement voice concerns about the product making it easier to sneak alcohol into locations where it is illegal; Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) dubbed it Kool-Aid for underage drinking.
Palcohol and Lipsmark LLC founder/owner Mark Philips reacted, and still reacts, by dismissing concerns and reasonable inquiries about the product’s safety. Never mind that the Palcohol website originally promoted some of those same risks, before the media took notice of his product in early 2014 and the original web content was removed or revised.
Earlier this month the TTB approved labels for Palcohol a second time . To date, 6 states have banned powdered alcohol, 2 states have taken administrative/regulatory action to ban it, and at least 22 states have legislation pending that would ban it. Voicing disbelief that such a dangerous product could be approved in the first place, Senator Schumer called for federal legislation to ban Palcohol and other powdered/crystalline alcohol products.
Nevertheless, Philips says Palcohol will be on the market this summer – at least in states that have not banned powdered alcohol yet.
As we saw with caffeinated alcoholic beverages, states are well within their purview to ban alcoholic beverages that pose additional dangers to public safety and health. The 20+ states that have not yet taken action should move quickly to protect youth, and enact bans on powdered alcohol.
For legislative updates regarding dangerous products like Palcohol, see the AJ Legislative Activity page.