By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
Earlier this month, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau briefly granted approval to a new powdered form of alcohol. A couple of weeks later, the agency withdrew its approval, saying it was given in error.
The incident brought powdered alcohol to the national media’s attention, as well as the attention of many parents and addiction experts. I believe Alabama needs to take pre-emptive action before this dangerous product gets final approval and starts showing up on store shelves across our state.
Powdered alcohol, which works just like instant coffee or tea, is not a new product. It has been sold in stores throughout Japan, Germany and the Netherlands since the 1970s. But it has never been produced or sold inside the United States.
There is a good reason for that!
Parent groups and addiction experts have recently come out in strong opposition to approving powdered alcohol, concerned that the product will be easily obtained and abused by underage drinkers—particularly if an underage drinker were to snort it instead of mixing it first.
Even the company that makes powdered alcohol has warned that snorting their product can get a person drunk almost instantly. This could easily lead to abuse and overdosing. Additionally, the chemicals used to turn the alcohol into a powder are some of the same elements found in things like detergent. Snorting that into your body cannot be healthy!
At the same time, we do not know exactly how ingesting the powder without mixing it would affect the body. Would the body be able to break it down? If not, what affect would it have on the digestive track? Could it cause toxicity in the blood? These are questions we do not have answers to.
Furthermore, powdered alcohol is highly portable and easy to conceal, which makes it easier for underage drinkers to sneak alcohol into places like schools, movie theaters or ball games. At one time, the website of the company that makes powdered alcohol actually recommended sneaking their product into concerts and sprinkling it on food.
If the company is that irresponsible with their marketing, I cannot help but wonder how irresponsible they might be with their actual product!
I have always believed that adults should be allowed to make their own decisions when it comes to drinking alcohol. That is why I fought for the right of our local voters to decide the issue of Sunday sales in Gadsden. But this issue is not about letting grown ups make their own choices. This is about public health and protecting our children.
Powdered alcohol is a potentially dangerous substance that could potentially cause significant health problems, including addiction and overdosing. At the very least, the federal government needs to do a lot more research before allowing this product to be sold in American stores.
I whole-heartedly believe that powdered alcohol is dangerous, and that state leaders need to take pre-emptive action to prevent powdered alcohol from being produced or sold in Alabama. As elected officials, we have a responsibility to protect public health and prevent dangerous products from being sold in Alabama stores. It is time for the state to take action!
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.