Moves to ban powdered alcohol product in Australian states
The Victorian government banned the sale of powdered alcohol with effect from 1 July 2015, and is urging other States to follow suit, in the wake of a new powdered-alcohol product ‘Palcohol’.
The Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jan Garrett has called for nation-wide regulation after the introduction of the Victorian ban on 1 July 2015.
Western Australia, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and South Australia have supported the call for a nationally consistent approach.
Queensland and NSW governments have indicated they are moving to ban such products. NSW Deputy Premier and Justice Minister Troy Grant stated “with all the progress we’ve made tackling alcohol-related harm, it would be counterproductive to allow these products to be sold”.
However, the Federal government has stated the issue is a matter for each State to regulate on. In Australia, the Federal government controls importation, taxing and advertising of alcohol products and States regulation alcohol licensing.
Federal Small Business Minister Bruce Billson said that the ACCC had indicated it would be ‘premature’ to enforce a national prohibition on the product but his office was “supportive of a nationally consistent approach” using each State’s powers for alcohol regulation.
The Palcohol product at the centre of the debate is a powder-based alcohol product that can be mixed with liquids to make one standard drink. The product is sold in a foil pouch with directions to add water prior to consumption and has led to concerns over potential of misuse arisen due to the ease of sneaking the product into venues, its attraction for young people due to the novelty factor, and fear that the powder could be used for snorting.
The product, which comes in varieties of cosmopolitan, margarita, rum and vodka, was approved by the US Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in March 2015. This approval however does not constitute approval for sale but an assessment that the product label is appropriate for sale. US States including Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont have already banned the product and other American States have been reported to be considering a ban.
This is not the first instance of a powder-alcohol product being manufactured for sale; however it is the first time it has come to the serious attention of Australian regulators.