Bill to ban powdered alcohol advances to House

Monday , March 09, 2015 - 7:54 PM

SALT LAKE CITY -- Legislation that would ban the use, sale or purchase of powdered alcohol advanced out of the House Business and Labor committee Monday.

Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said the product’s federal approval had been revoked but could be reinstated this spring.

“So this is simply trying to get ahead of what Time Magazine called a public health nightmare,” Eliason told committee members Monday.

Eliason said that one website described the packets of freeze-dried alcohol as “an easy way to take a stiff drink on the go.” The potent powders are also advertised to cut costs at venues that charge high prices for mixed drinks.

However, its transportable form also makes the product rife for abuse, Eliason added, including the possibility of snorting it and getting drunk almost instantly. The Food and Drug Administration rescinded its prior approval due to how fast people could get intoxicated using it

Law enforcement advocates also support the ban, Elaison said, because of the product’s potential to turn any container into an alcoholic beverage or “open container.”

“You’re probably wondering what I have in my water bottle this morning,” Eliason quipped.

The bill sat stalled in the House Rules committee since the start of the legislative session in late January. Last Thursday, one week before the session ends, HB48 finally received a committee assignment.

Laura Bunker, president of United Families International, mocked the product’s advertising:

“Just add water, mix with any soft drink, in any concentration. Adding Palcohol to food is so much fun. Sprinkle Palcohol on any dish to give it an extra kick ... Yes, you can snort it and you’ll get drunk almost instantly because the alcohol will be absorbed so quickly in your nose.”

Bunker called such enticements “sobering.”

“Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for teens and the number one date-rape drug,” Bunker said, noting that the powdered form makes it easier to get, use and hide.

The website, www.palcohol.com, urges consumers who would like to try the product to contact their legislators “to tell them you don’t need the government to be our nanny,” blaming opposition to the product on the liquor industry which it claims hopes to squash the competition.

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or cmckitrick@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

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