Hawaii Senate Votes to Approve Ban on Powdered Alcohol
News Release from Sen Sam Slom April 28, 2015
HONOLULU—Today, the Hawaii Senate voted on Senate Bill 550, a bill that started out as a prohibition on tobacco products and e-cigarettes for minors, but morphed into a proposal for a statewide ban on powdered alcohol. The measure passed by a vote of 21 in favor to two against. Senator Sam Slom and Senator Laura Thielen were the only no votes. Senator Gil Riviere, Senator Will Espero, and Senator Les Ihara voted in favor of the ban, but with reservations.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, approved the sale of Powdered Alcohol or "Palcohol" on March 10, 2015. Palcohol packets are 4 x 6 inches in size, and the contents are to be added to 6 ounces of liquid. The mixture is then stirred for 60 seconds. One large packet makes a single alcoholic drink.
During the floor vote, Senator Slom rose in opposition to the bill, voicing his concern over the state banning the product before it even got here, instead of regulating it. He said, "Whenever there is a new product, whether it be powdered alcohol or e-cigarettes, we want to jump on it, and ban it. To ban a product before it even gets here seems short sighted."
Senator Slom also mentioned that by advancing this measure, the state would be spending money to enforce the ban, while simultaneously losing out on potential tax revenue from legal sales. Finally, Senator Slom pointed out, "We talk about glass recycling costs – this would help solve that problem..."
Proponents of the ban cite the usual arguments: that the product will encourage underage use and threaten public safety. However, to date no incidents have occurred to justify these concerns because palcohol will not hit store shelves until this summer.
Senator Slom says, "This is not a public safety issue. If it were, the ban would be on alcohol in its liquid form. This is an issue of government overreaching and dictating personal choices. Every argument I've heard could easily apply to alcohol in its liquid form, but no one is talking about that. This is just another example of Hawaii treating its citizens like children, by restricting access to a legal, federally approved product. Government exists to protect a citizen's right to choose and support innovative business ideas. Instead, legislators are imposing their personal values on others."
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