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What is Powdered Alcohol?
Powdered alcohol is alcohol that has been absorbed by a sugar derivative and has a powder-like appearance that some have compared to Tang or Kool-Aid.1,2 Though it originated in the 19th century and has been produced and sold in a small handful of countries, powdered alcohol has yet to be sold in the United States 3,4
On April 8, 2014, the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved labels for “Palcohol,” a powdered alcohol product.5
On April 21, 2014, two weeks after approving the product, the TTB reversed its decision, saying that it had mistakenly issued the approval.6 According to Lipsmark LLC, the Arizona-based company that makes Palcohol, there was a discrepancy regarding the amount of powder in the packets. 7 The company surrendered the labels in response, but planned to resubmit the product for approval.
On March 10, 2015, the TTB approved Palcohol’s resubmitted labels, allowing the company to move forward with its plans to make the product commercially available.8
Palcohol was created by Mark Phillips, who wanted to have a portable, lightweight form of alcohol to take with him when hiking, biking, or camping so he could “enjoy a refreshing adult beverage” after hours of outdoor activity.9
Though Palcohol was expected to hit the market in the summer of 2015, it is still not available for purchase. As of July 2016, the company website states that they will make it available “as soon as we can,” but that “no samples will be released ahead of time.”10
Lipsmark LLC plans to sell Palcohol in portable one-ounce pouches that are equivalent to one shot of alcohol when added to 6 ounces of water.11 It will be offered in five different flavors:
Public Health Risks
In terms of public health and safety, powdered alcohol poses many potential risks. Bruce Anderson, director of the Maryland Poison Center at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, says the product has the potential to be a significant public health problem for all consumers, though “the risk to underage drinkers if of particular
Specifically, powdered alcohol is concerning because:
Originally, the company even suggested consumers could take the product with them into college football stadiums and concerts, or even add it to food. However, they have since removed these suggestions from their
There are also many unknowns about powdered alcohol. As the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA) points out, “There is no scientific evidence on how potent the alcoholic beverage created would be, so it is not possible to compare the consequences of this product to alcoholic beverages already in the marketplace.” For that reason, among many others, it is important to be proactive rather than reactive; we must act now to prevent harmful situations for our youth rather than waiting to respond once tragedies have occurred. As David Jernigan and the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) suggest, “Our efforts should be focused on making alcohol products less, not more, available to our nation’s youth.”14
Powdered Alcohol Legislation
Following the TTB’s approval of Palcohol labels, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said he was in “total disbelief that our federal government has approved such an obviously dangerous product,” stating that “underage alcohol abuse is a growing epidemic with tragic consequences and powdered alcohol could exacerbate this.”15 On June 8, 2015, he filed an amendment that would make it illegal to make, sell, distribute, or possess powdered alcohol nationwide.16 However, the legislation did not pass and there are currently no federal laws prohibiting the product.
On June 14, 2016, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced that it supports state and federal laws banning powdered alcohol in the United States. In its statement, the organization said that the product could “cause serious harm to minors and should be banned.”17
Several states have taken action on their own to ban powdered alcohol. As of June 2016, 34 states have permanently or temporarily banned the product, several have pending legislation to ban it, and only 3 allow regulated sales.18
Source: Alcohol Justice, Powdered Alcohol – State Laws
States with laws prohibiting the sale of powdered alcohol:
States with temporary one-year statutory bans:
States that allow Palcohol:
For more information about state legislation throughout the country related to powdered alcohol, visit the Alcohol Justice and National Conference of State Legislatures websites.
State of Powdered Alcohol in Texas
During the 84th Texas legislative session in 2015, the legislature had the opportunity to ban powdered alcohol in Texas with House Bill 1018. Unfortunately, consideration of the bill was postponed and it never made it to the House floor for a vote.19 As a result, powdered alcohol will be available for purchase in the state of Texas once it is available on the market. However, Texas lawmakers can still act to ban the product during the next Legislative Session in 2017. In fact, we expect to see continued discussion on the issue, as members of the Texas House have been tasked with further exploring the impact of powdered alcohol in the state of Texas.
In November 2015, the Honorable Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, released the 84th Session Interim Charges, which assigned the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee with the following charge related to powdered alcohol:
Charge 3: Explore the increasing incidence of powdered alcohol, its impact on underage drinking, and regulations in other states that have appropriately addressed the various impacts of the product.20
Texans Standing Tall will continue to monitor and provide updates on the interim charge, as well as other State and National legislation related to powdered alcohol, as it moves forward. Check back often for the latest news, or sign up to receive Texans Standing Tall newsletters and other updates. You can also contact us directly at tst@TexansStandingTall.org or 512.442.7501 if you have any questions or would like additional information.
1 National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA). (2015, September). Powdered Alcohol: An Encapsulation. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from http://www.nabca.org/assets/Docs/Research/PowderedAlcoholPaper.pdf
2 Grisham, L. (2015, March 12). What you need to know about powdered alcohol. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/03/12/palcohol-powdered-alcohol/70198862/
3 NABCA, Powdered Alcohol.
4 Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. Powdered Alcohol Fact Sheet (2016, February). Retrieved June 16, 2016 from http://www.camy.org/resources/fact-sheets/powdered-alcohol/
6 CNNMoney. (2014, April 21). Regulator reverses approval of powdered alcohol. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from http://money.cnn.com/2014/04/21/news/companies/powdered-alcohol/; NABCA, Powdered Alcohol
7 CNNMoney. Regulator reverses approval of powdered alcohol.
8 CBS News (2015, March 11). “Palcohol” powdered alcohol wins federal approval. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/palcohol-powdered-alcohol-wins-federal-approval/
9 Palcohol Website: http://www.palcohol.com/f.a.q..html
10 Palcohol Website FAQs: http://www.palcohol.com/f.a.q..html
12 Anderson, B. (2015, March 16). Md. Should ban ‘palcohol’. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-palcohol-letter-20150316-story.html
13 CNNMoney, Regulator reverses approval of powdered alcohol.
14 The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. (2015, March 12). CAMY Statement on Powdered Alcohol [Press Release]. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from http://www.camy.org/_docs/newsroom/media-statements/media-statements-2015/media-statement-2015-03-12.pdf
15 Calamur, K. (2015, March 12). Powdered Alcohol Faces Hurdles After Regulatory Approval. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/03/12/392594219/powdered-alcohol-faces-hurdles-after-regulatory-approval
16 161 Cong. Rec. s3866, (8 June 2015), Retrieved June 16, 2016 from https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/2015/06/08/senate-section/article/S3866-1?q=%257B%2522search%2522%253A%255B%2522schumer%2522%255D%257D
17 American Medical Association. (2016, June 14). New AMA Policy Calls for Ban on Powdered Alcohol [Press release]. Retrieved June 17, 2016 from http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/news/news/2016/2016-06-14-ama-policy-ban-powdered-alcohol.page
18 Alcohol Justice (2016, June). Powdered Alcohol – State Laws. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from https://alcoholjustice.org/legislative-activity/dangerous-products/powdered-alcohol; National Conference of State Legislatures. (2015, November 11). Powdered Alcohol 2015 Legislation. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from http://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/powdered-alcohol-2015-legislation.aspx
19 Texas Legislature Online. (n.d.) Bill History for HB 2018. Retrieved June 16, 2016 from http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=HB1018
20 Texas House of Representatives, Speaker of the House. (2015, November 4). 84th Session Interim Committee Charges. Retrieved from http://www.house.state.tx.us/_media/pdf/interim-charges-84th.pdf