June 18, 2014

Editorial: Move to ban powdered alcohol

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration made an ill-advised ruling in April allowing the manufacture and sale of powdered alcohol.

New York state is wisely attempting to undo the harm.

Powdered alcohol is the brainchild of a company called Lipsmark. The product goes by the name Palcohol. Lipsmark applied to the FDA for approval to make and market the product. The FDA gave it.

Since then, the FDA has reconsidered and withdrawn its approval, but Lipsmark has reapplied and now awaits the government’s final decision.

Should the FDA again give its approval, the governments in a number of states want to head off the use of Palcohol within their borders, particularly the illegal use by underage customers. Vermont is one state that has already passed legislation to ban powdered alcohol. New York is considering such a bill.

The Senate has passed a bill banning the sale of powdered alcohol. The Assembly is expected to vote on it.

Specifically, the bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, would prohibit anyone from selling, offering for sale or providing for consumption any powdered or crystalline alcoholic product.

The objection to the product should be obvious. Whereas bottles and cans are virtually impossible to conceal, a powdered variety would be as unobtrusive as a handkerchief. Even schools could be the new sites for boozing it up undetected.

The bill’s Senate sponsor was Republican Joseph Griffo of Utica. Here is his rationale for the bill:

“Powdered alcohol can be transported very easily and can be hidden in a pocket, making it more portable than a bottle or flask of liquor. There are very serious concerns about the illegal use of powdered alcohol by young people, possibly even bringing it into schools or other events and locations that prohibit alcohol consumption.

“There could also be dangerous health risks from snorting this product to get alcohol directly to the brain. It could even be sprinkled onto someone’s food or in their drink without the other person’s knowledge.”

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