Powered alcohol

23 March, 2015 Jasmine O'Donoghue

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The Victorian Government said it will move to ban “Palcohol” after the manufacturer has reportedly shown interest in the Australian market.

Palcohol has been approved for sale in the United States, with the manufacturer planning to begin selling the powdered alcohol “this summer”.

One standard drink is made by adding a packet of the powder to three-quarters of a cup of water and the maker has flagged “food applications” such as “adult ice-cream” as a potential use for the product.

Palcohol will be sold in the US in two hard-spirit versions; Vodka and Puerto Rican rum and three cocktail versions; Cosmopolitan, Powderita (like a margarita) and Lemon Drop.

Minister for Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett said she will write to her interstate and federal counterparts on Monday about stopping the powder from flooding the market, ABC News reports.

"This product is dangerous," Garrett said.

"It will be easy to get into venues, easy to carry around in backpacks; it's obviously a bit of a novelty.

"Regulating the amount that's used is really difficult.

"How this thing is measured, if it's poured into a punch bowl, what does it do?

"There's concerns that people might be snorting it."

But the maker of the product, Mark Phillips, has a different idea.

Phillips argues that snorting the product would be painful and that a packet and it will not be easy to conceal as a packet of Palcohol is 4" x 6".

In a statement on the Palcohol website, he went on to say banning Palcohol would be “irresponsible” as “’the government will spend precious financial resources trying to enforce the ban and it probably won’t work.”

Phillips also said a ban would heighten demand and create a black market.

Phillips decided to create the product to suit activities which don’t lend themselves to lugging heavy bottles of alcohol, such as hiking, biking, vamping and kayaking.

“After hours of an activity, sometimes [Phillips] wanted to relax and enjoy a refreshing adult beverage… since powder is light and compact, it wouldn't be a burden to carry,” the Palcohol website states.

The Victorian president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Tony Bartone, said he supported moves to ban the powder.

"It just lends itself to an unwanted possibility of abuse and excess that sends the wrong message of excess in a culture that is seeking to promote alcohol in moderation," Bartone said.

He said any labels or warnings on the product would not stop people abusing the product.

"It's about ensuring we have a reliable, predictable amount of alcohol in what we consume," he said.

"It's the message that we're sending. This would be able to go through to places where you would normally not allow alcohol to be.

"The possibility of taking it to school...and hiding it in containers. It just lends itself to abuse and misuse.

"There is a plethora of alcohol products available on the shelves, we don't need additional products such as this."

Garrett said she had the power to ban the product in Victoria, but wanted a national approach.

"We have a lot of alcohol products available in this country that are regulated and made by local manufacturers," she said.

"This is a really unwanted element ... and we will be doing everything we can to deal with it.

"The ways in which this product can be misused is limited only to the imagination."

She said governments had an obligation to make sure "dangerous products" were not available to young people. 

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