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NH: Powdered alcohol banned in New Hampshire

NH: Powdered alcohol banned in New Hampshire

Seacoast Online

September 15, 2015

PORTSMOUTH — The state’s Liquor Commission has issued an order banning the sale of powdered alcohol in state liquor stores and prohibiting the shipment of any powdered alcohol to New Hampshire consumers.

Liquor Enforcement Chief Jim Wilson called the prohibition a “step in the right direction,” while adding that the new ban does not prohibit possession of powdered alcohol. He said he’s urged members of a legislative committee charged with studying powdered alcohol to enforce an all-out ban that includes penalties for possession.

The Liquor Commission voted unanimously on Sept. 10 to impose the ban on selling and shipping powdered alcohol, which is a powder that can be mixed with water to make three kinds of cocktails and two types of liquor. The powdered booze, with a brand name Palcohol, comes in a pouch and can make shots of rum or vodka and several types of cocktails, reports inventor Mark Phillips on his web site.

Wilson has lobbied against the product and in April told the Portsmouth Herald that he’s opposed to it because, “the potential harm for nefarious use outweighs the beneficial use.” One example, Wilson said, was previously promoted by Palcohol as the powder being advantageous for people looking to avoid the cost of cocktails in venues by concealing pouches of powdered alcohol in their pockets, mixing it with water inside clubs and stadiums and making cocktails, or shots of rum and vodka, for a fraction of the cost.

The New Hampshire liquor chief said licensed purveyors of alcohol “have a lot of responsibility” when it comes to serving alcohol. Judgments are made about patrons’ sobriety and if they’re adding their own powdered alcohol to drinks sold legally, he said, “it puts the liquor license in jeopardy.”

Wilson said Palcohol was also previously advertised as an alcoholic product that could be sprinkled onto food. He said he has concerns about it being added to drinks and food without people knowing. Because Palcohol can be ingested in dry form and added to cocktails that already contain alcohol, it could also lead to alcohol poisoning, he said. Wilson also expressed concern about it being used during the commission of a crime, including sexual assault.

The liquor chief said the new ban aligns New Hampshire with 25 other states that have placed temporary or permanent bans on powdered booze. Catching violators will occur through liquor enforcement efforts already in place, he said. Those include requiring direct shipping companies to provide monthly reports about what was shipped, from Point A to Point B. The U.S. Postal Service does not ship alcohol in any form, he said.

“The ideal situation will be a complete prohibition,” Wilson said. “We’ll see what the legislature does.”

David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, issued a statement in opposition to powdered alcohol earlier this year, suggesting it will appeal to young binge drinkers.

“The decision by federal regulators to approve the sale of powdered alcohol is disappointing,” he said. “Based on our experience with jello shots, alcoholic energy drinks and other “cutting edge” alcohol products, we anticipate that allowing powdered alcohol onto the market will have grave consequences for our nation’s young people,” Jernigan stated. “Youth is a time of risk-taking and experimentation, and these types of products have proven most popular among the heaviest drinking and more risk-prone youth. Currently, 4,300 young people under age 21 die each year from alcohol-related causes. Our efforts should be focused on making alcoholic products less, not more, available to our nation’s youth.”