Bucks Promise for Youth and Communities

Bucks Promise for Youth and Communities



Thursday, May 28, 2015

BPYC submitted an Op-ed article posted in the Bucks County Intelligencer on May 26, 2015

Need an alcoholic drink? Just add water…..

“It’s a simple shot of liquor in powdered form.” This statement was made by Mark Phillips, creator of one powdered alcohol brand, marketed as “Palcohol.”  The issue of powdered alcohol, its composition, its convenience and its potential for misuse are being debated at the federal, state and consumer level with Palcohol being the most common example cited in the discussions.

Mark Phillips wanted to be able to take hikes, go biking, and enjoy an adult beverage at the conclusion of these activities. However, he soon ran into a problem with the inconvenience of carrying traditionally-packaged alcoholic beverages as he participated in physical activities. That was, until he came up with the idea of just adding water to alcohol in powdered form so these adult beverages could be enjoyed anywhere and anytime. While not the first powdered alcohol product, Phillips created Palcohol, and he has made headlines for his attempts to push for federal approval.

How is it made and what’s in it?  Little is known by the public about its composition because it is still in the process of being patented. This much we are told by the manufacturers – when used as directed, the addition of six ounces of liquid to the powder is equal to a standard mixed drink. While versions vary, natural flavorings and Sucralose as a sweetener may be part of the powder.

In 2014, Palcohol was initially approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) but that decision was reversed several weeks later because of concerns over how the product was labeled.  In March 2015, the TTB reinstated the approval of Palcohol. The issue of powdered alcohol use becomes more complex because to date, six (6) states have banned the product. Pennsylvania is among thirty (30) other states that have been proactively working to pass legislation to ban powdered alcohol. State Senator Shirley Kitchen (D-Phila) has already introduced legislation which would make it illegal for any person in Pennsylvania to possess powdered alcohol, even if it had been legally purchased in another state. In addition to this legislation, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has decided to prohibit the sale of powdered alcohol. The decision is also receiving support from Governor Tom Wolf’s administration.

Some concerns influencing the legislative bans include an increase in the accessibility and potency of alcohol content, easier ability to carry and transport alcohol into areas where having such a product is illegal, snorting the powder, having the powder unknowingly sprinkled on foods or in drinks, and marketing campaigns that favor the youth market.

“This product is easy to conceal and could easily lead to an increase in substance abuse or misuse by minors or adults,” said Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health Karen Murphy.

In a statement of support for the ban, Department of Drug and Alcohol programs Acting Secretary Gary Tennis said, “Endorsement of products that may strongly appeal to youth or make it easier for individuals to consume alcohol in places they would otherwise not be permitted to do so by law creates an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of Pennsylvania residents.”