Poll Shows Most Americans Wary of Powdered Alcohol

Most Americans want a ban on powdered alcohol. That’s the finding of the first formal, nationally representative poll by an entity other than the manufacturer of Palcohol, a brand of powdered alcohol.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health surveyed almost 2,000 adults nationwide in May 2015, two months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of powdered alcohol. The findings were published June 15 in Science Daily. Of the respondents:

  • 60 percent support a total ban of powdered alcohol in their state.
  • 84 percent want online sales of powdered alcohol prohibited.
  • 90 percent fear underage people, or those younger than 21, will misuse the product.
  • 85 percent are concerned that the legalization of powdered alcohol will increase underage use of alcohol.
  • 81 percent worry that powdered alcohol will prove easy for underage people to acquire.

These high levels of public concern about the health risks of powdered alcohol for children square with the results of an ongoing poll by Addiction.com: So far approximately 73 percent of respondents have said Palcohol shouldn’t be allowed to be sold.

Manufacturer Touts Palcohol’s Benefits, Addresses Safety Concerns

Palcohol’s creator dismisses such worries, saying powdered alcohol should be taxed and regulated just like its liquid counterpart and that it’s actually safer than liquid alcohol. Mark Phillips, who founded Lipsmark, the Arizona-based manufacturer of Palcohol, says he developed powdered alcohol for those who need to pack light, such as backpackers and recreationally active people like himself. The Lipsmark CEO claims that even medical personnel traveling to the developing world have expressed interest in Palcohol.

“Medical personnel have inquired about using Palcohol as an antiseptic, which would be lighter than a liquid antiseptic — which would make it beneficial to use when going to remote locations where medical supplies need to be lugged in,” Phillips told Elements Behavioral Health (EBH).

In an official statement on the Palcohol website, Phillips expresses concern about proposed bans of powdered alcohol at the state and federal levels. (Already at least six states have banned Palcohol, and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York is leading a legislative charge to ban Palcohol nationwide.)

Phillips writes:

…it concerns me that there is a proposed ban of powdered alcohol in other states and on the federal level denying millions of responsible adults and hundreds of businesses a chance to use this legal, safe and revolutionary new product that has applications in medicine, energy, hospitality, the military, manufacturing, etc. as well as reducing the carbon footprint by being so much lighter to ship than liquid alcohol.

Phillips chalks up the latest findings by the University of Michigan poll to a lack of education about powdered alcohol. Citing the results of a poll that his company conducted, which reportedly shows 80 percent of drinkers want to buy Palcohol, Phillips told EBH that “when people don’t know about Palcohol and the many benefits or solutions it offers, they have a negative feeling toward it.”

“Once they understand the product,” he continued, “most change their mind … I would suspect that very, very few of the people polled in the Michigan study have been to Palcohol.com, the only place where one can find the truth about Palcohol. So the fact that 40 percent of the people polled don’t want it banned knowing nothing about it is very encouraging to us.”

Putting Poll Findings in Context

On the heels of the release of the University of Michigan’s findings, EBH contacted the director of the poll, Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, for his comments on the results. Dr. Davis, who is also the deputy director of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, issued the following disclaimer:

The important part of our National Poll on Children’s Health is that our work provides a way to bring the public’s views into the national policy dialogue through a nationally representative sample of adults. In other words: our findings are not the opinions of our team; instead, our results indicate that it is the public that favors a ban on powdered alcohol and restrictions on advertising and online sales.

Meanwhile, the problem of underage alcohol abuse continues to pose significant health risks. Alcohol remains the most widely abused substance among people between the ages of 12 and 21. Every year, roughly 5,000 young people under the age of 21 will die as a result of underage drinking. These deaths occur as the result of vehicular accidents, homicides, suicides, and other drinking-related injuries, such as falls, burns, and drowning. And other reports show that alcohol abuse remains one of the top 10 health concerns for kids. The problem remains despite a sharp downward decline in underage drinking, according to the latest report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

By Kristina Robb-Dover
Follow Kristina on Twitter at @saintplussinner

Posted on December 22nd, 2015
Posted in Alcohol Abuse

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