Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Powdered alcohol: A big threat to health?

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Greg Peck
Friday, April 25, 2014

That didn't take long. I had never heard of something called powdered alcohol, or “Palcohol,” until catching part of a story on an ABC news program Monday morning. By that afternoon, I saw a news release stating that state Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, plans to introduce a bill to ban its sale in Wisconsin.

The powder, Carpenter said, can be added to liquid, sprinkled on food or snorted.

“The potential for abuse is simply unacceptable,” he said.

Wisconsin Public Radio reported that powdered alcohol products are readily available in Germany and the Netherlands and that the substance has been making a lot of news this week. “Basically, it's powdered ethanol that comes in two alcohol flavors, vodka and rum, with other drink-flavored powders expected to follow. When the powder is dissolved in five ounces of water, the end result is an alcoholic beverage with the same potency of a standard mixed drink.” Carpenter noted that Wisconsin ranks as the eighth-highest state in alcohol consumption.

“Like alcohol-laced energy drinks, this appears to be another attempt to market alcohol irresponsibly to young people,” Carpenter said. Add the fact that Wisconsin is the only state where a first drunken-driving offense is not a crime, and powdered alcohol is mixing a dangerous cocktail, Carpenter suggests.

“It took several tragic deaths before the sale of alcohol-laced energy drinks were pulled off the market. I don't think we need to wait for a similar tragedy, and we should ban powdered alcohol,” Carpenter added.

Wisconsin Public Radio noted there is confusion about whether the federal government has approved powdered alcohol. The manufacturer says the product has been approved but the labeling has not.

Eau Claire Police Department community relations Officer Kyle Roder told Wisconsin Public Radio that powdered alcohol could be hard for police officers to spot.

“The powdered form would be very difficult for people to detect coming into a sporting event or some sort of activity,” Roder said. “I could see it being difficult to detect, even in our schools.” Remember when young people used to sneak flasks of wine or other liquor into sporting events? Given access to palcohol, they no longer would need to resort to such tactics.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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