(Albany, NY – June 2015) The State Senate passed legislation June 8 (S1757A), sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo that would prohibit the sale of any powdered or crystalline alcohol products in the state.
“With every rising trend we see in substance abuse among young people, we already know how quickly some adolescents are willing to try the next new thing, often with unfortunate consequences,” said Sen. Griffo, R-C-I, Rome. “Powdered alcohol is yet another new, potentially dangerous substance that can get into the wrong hands, and I don’t want to wait around to see what that might mean for our children. I am glad the Senate has taken the lead in banning the sale of powdered alcohol across our State, and I urge my colleagues in the Assembly to join us in this effort to protect our children.”
The bill has been sent to the Assembly, where it is sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (A1357).
Powdered alcohol – which will be marketed and sold as “Palcohol” – is a powder that when mixed with 6 ounces of liquid, creates the equivalent of a standard mixed drink.
In 2014, the manufacturer of Palcohol sought federal approval to market their product. Earlier this year, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved revised labels allowing the product to legally be sold in the United States, unless otherwise prohibited. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that the use of ingredients in Palcohol was in compliance with their regulations, and they do not, at this time, have legal basis to block this item from being sold.
A potential danger with powdered alcohol is that multiple packets could be misused to form one single, possibly lethal drink. It could also increase the chances of underage drinking and substance abuse.
The appeal this product might have for minors is particularly troubling to experts throughout Central New York and the North Country who are focused on the prevention and treatment of substance abuse – especially since powdered alcohol is so unfamiliar to youths and can easily be disguised by mixing it into otherwise harmless beverages, sodas or juices.
“I think that young people are risk takers and are willing to try anything because they’re at that point in their life where they don’t feel that the serious consequences of doing something will happen to them,” said Tina Buckley, Executive Director of Can/Am Youth Services, Inc. and Rose Hill Treatment Center in Massena. “So if we can nip it right in the bud from the beginning, I think that we can stop another epidemic from occurring.”
Judith Reilly, Community Programs Director at Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc. in Utica, also believes this proposed legislation would help prevent further substance abuse among young people.
“Powdered alcohol has many dangers associated with its use and its ability to be abused, and therefore, Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc. commends Senator Griffo’s sponsorship of legislation to ban powdered alcohol,” Reilly said.
The 2011 Teen Assessment Project Survey reported that 40 percent of Oneida County teens in grades 7, 9, 11 have consumed alcohol, Reilly said. Evidence shows that when a person under the age of 25 drinks alcohol they have increased chances for developmental consequences and a life of addiction. Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc. staff and its coalition partners work tirelessly to utilize effective strategies and initiatives to reduce or prevent alcohol and/or drug abuse in individuals, families, and communities, Reilly said.
Several states including Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia have already passed similar legislation.