Palcohol, Powdered Alcohol

By Larry Lubell  Chicago

The Palcohol, Powdered AlcoholAlcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved seven new version of Palcohol this week, including Margarita and Cosmopolitan. In case you’re like me and had never heard of this product until today, it’s alcohol in powder form.

Consider, that each day, an average of 30 people die in motor vehicle accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. The math works out to one death every 48 minutes. Clearly the toll of alcohol goes far beyond  deaths in auto accidents and must include the far larger number of those injured as well as the broader evils associated with Alcoholism. When one recognizes the scale of the problem, and reads how AA and other 12-step treatment options have less than a 10% tong-term success rate, it seems difficult to justify making it easier to feed such a habit.

 I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with adults having a few drinks. I can’t picture going to a dinner party and having the hosts put away the Malbec and Bordeaux wine or the premium vodka, choosing instead to pour some powder alcohol into a jug of water. Nor does it seem likely that fine restaurants will have a great fear of their customers adding Palcohol to their drinks or food.  I don’t imagine that will be the source of the problems, but then again, I don’t believe that is the group to which they are targeting this product.   

Just in case us parents did not have enough of a challenge keeping alcohol out of parties, I think it just got dramatically easier for kids to smuggle alcohol in to any place. I have the good fortune to have an 18 year old son that doesn’t drink and hangs out with a group of over-achievers- but I do hear stories, some of which include the ingenuity that teens show when trying to sneak stuff into a party. While a case of beer is not getting past an adults watchful eyes, there is no way I would ever search a teenage girl looking for a small packet of powder; moreover, every girl knows that. Looking to get a teenager’s perspective, I showed my son the article and he was dumfounded that the ATF would OK this product.

I must state my concern extends beyond high school kids. Colleges across the country are fighting a battle against binge drinking, Palcohol is just going to pour gas on the fire. Not to give anyone any ideas, but It is easy to picture Fraternities and sororities spoon-feeding this powered alcohol to their pledges. How about a pie-eating-contest where the treats are baked with the stuff, making each slice more potent than a shot of tequila. I afraid if I go one listing potential ways to abuse this product, Palcohol will offer me a job as marketing director.  I do understand that individuals have the burden to drink  responsibility, and I’m inherently uncomfortable with the government taking on the role of  parent; the problem here is this product’s ability to bypass many of the gatekeepers that aid in reducing excess. A few examples of obstacles removed include, avoiding the high prices that clubs charge for a drink (How many $12 drinks are you going to buy), and avoiding bartenders obligation not to over-serve customers.     

Insurance companies are working with the state to reduce DUI offenses, and it is my fear of additional drunk drivers on the road that motivated me to write this article. My hope is, now that it looks clear that Palcohol will be hitting the shelves, people will us this “Just add water to get high” product in a way that does not increase deaths on our roads.   So when the Palcohol website says “One package weighs about an ounce and is small enough to fit into any pocket” and “Take your Pal wherever you go!” that does not include the driver’s seat of your car.  



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