(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Craig Coughlin, Charles Mainor, Nancy Pinkin and Joseph Danielsen sponsored to prohibit the sale of powdered alcohol in New Jersey cleared its final legislative hurdle with passage by the full Senate Monday afternoon. The bill was approved 39-1.
Powdered alcohol is ethyl alcohol which is designed to be dissolved in liquid to produce alcoholic beverages. Moriarty first introduced the bill in November. However, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau finally approved the sale of powdered alcohol on the market in March, prompting renewed concerns about the dangers the product poses.
“The lure of this product to underage people and the potential for dangerous misuse among people of any age is ripe. Not only can it be inhaled, it can also be added to another person’s food or drink unbeknownst to them,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Because of its composition, powdered alcohol can also be easily concealed and brought into venues where alcoholic beverages from other sources may not be permitted or places where there is a total ban on alcoholic beverages.”
The bill (A-3580) stipulates that no person shall sell, offer for sale, or deliver, receive or purchase for resale, in this state, any product consisting of or containing powdered alcohol. The bill defines “powdered alcohol” as a powder or crystalline substance containing alcohol which is produced for human consumption.
“This product can be easily hidden and allows people to drink pretty much anywhere as long as they have water. That’s trouble waiting to happen,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Many people have a hard time limiting themselves with the liquid form. The potential for misuse is worrisome, especially among young people who may be experimenting with alcohol for the first time.”
“The makers of this product say people would be foolish to try to snort this product. I guess they never heard of the cinnamon challenge or the fire challenge,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “Young people are impressionable; even more so in our social media age. The last thing we need is another potentially dangerous fad for young people to get into and promote on the Internet.”
“This product, with its powdery form, trivializes the effects of alcohol, which can be especially dangerous for young people who often binge drink,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “From alcohol-poisonings on college campuses to alcohol-fueled accidents, youth and alcohol are often a bad mix. We don’t need a product that makes it even easier for them to drink irresponsibly.”
“There are so many untold risks with this product that far outweigh any benefits,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “Clearly most states are in agreement given all the action being taken to prevent this product from flooding the market. New Jersey needs to do the same before we open a Pandora’s Box of potential misuse and abuse.”
Federal approval of the product has prompted fierce opposition from health experts, public health officials and media outlets. At least five states banned the product before its approval and at least 23 other states are considering legislative bans.
The bill was approved 69-5-4 by the Assembly on June 25.