Weekly Feature

2015-04-23 / Local News

Legislators push to ban powdered alcohol in New York State

Legislators pushed for a ban on the sale of powdered alcohol during a press conference held April 9.

Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Cheektowaga, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, are pushing to ban the sale of powdered alcohol in New York State as well as the ban on the possession of powdered alcohol by people under the age of 21.

Palcohol, which was recently approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, is a powdered alcohol product intended to be mixed into nonalcoholic drinks, such as juice or soda.

Although the product is advertised for use only by adults over age 21, many people have expressed concerns that the powdered substance will be easy for youths to smuggle into underage settings, such as schools, proms or youth centers.

“As the father of three young children, I find it deeply troubling that a product could be on the market which would make it even easier to sneak alcohol into our schools or youth events,” Kennedy said. “Assemblywoman

Peoples-Stokes and I are calling on our colleagues to move swiftly to ban this dangerous product.”

The proposed legislation would establish a $5,000 fine for first-time offenders who are caught selling the product and a $10,000 fine for repeat offenders. Additionally, offenders risk losing their license issued by the New York State Liquor Authority. Underage persons found in possession of powdered alcohol would be subject to up to three different punishments, including a fine of up to $50, up to 30 hours of community service or the required completion of an alcohol awareness program.

Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes are also calling on distributors and retailers across the state to voluntarily refuse to sell the product.

“The sale of alcohol in any form has to be monitored,” Peoples-Stokes said. “Safeguards are in place to ensure minors cannot purchase liquid alcohol; however, powdered alcohol is growing in use. This legislation ensures that New York State keeps pace with powdered alcohol use and regulates it appropriately.”

She said powdered alcohol would be easier for minors to conceal at underage venues.

“It is important to remember that teens and young adults are the most vulnerable to social pressure and to experiment with addictive substances,” said Anne Constantino, president and CEO of Horizon Health Services. “Misuse of any drugs, including alcohol, can lead to devastating consequences. We need to take this threat to our young people seriously and do whatever we can do to reduce the availability of harmful substances.”

According to a recent report from the Baltimore Business Journal, retailers and distributors in Maryland reached an agreement with the state comptroller to ban the sale of Palcohol, joining the ranks of Delaware, Louisiana and Vermont.

While Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes are pushing for a ban in New York, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has also introduced legislation that would ban the production, sale and possession of powdered alcohol throughout the country.

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