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Majority of adults favor ban on powdered alcohol

Ninety percent of adults concerned about misuse of powdered alcohol among underage youth -- more than three-quarters support banning online sales

University of Michigan Health System

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After this year's legalization of powdered alcohol, some states have already banned it -- a move that the majority of the public supports, according to a new University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

Adults across the country share the same top concern about the new alcohol-on-the-go product: potential misuse among underage youth.

Packaged in travel-friendly pouches, powdered alcohol will be available in flavors of distilled spirits like vodka and rum and also mixed drinks. One packet of powdered alcohol mixed with six ounces of liquid creates an instant cocktail.

Sixty percent of U.S. adults in the nationally-representative Mott poll favor a complete ban of powdered alcohol in their states, while another 84 percent support prohibiting online sales of the product. In addition, 85 percent of adults agree that marketing for powdered alcohol should be restricted from social networking sites that make it easy to reach younger crowds.

'The product's makers tout powdered alcohol as improving convenience for people who enjoy the outdoors and others who want to travel light with alcoholic beverages,' says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the National Poll on Children's Health and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the UM Medical School.

'Given that several states are considering legislation about powdered alcohol, our poll looked at what the public thinks about this new product. The majority of adults agree that powdered alcohol may spell trouble for young people.'

About a third of adults had heard about powdered alcohol when the poll was conducted in May 2015 and all participants received pro and con information regarding the product before they answered questions about it. Adults shared particular concerns over the product:

  • 90 percent of adults are concerned that powdered alcohol will be misused by people under 21
  • 85 percent are concerned that powdered alcohol will increase use of alcohol for people under 21
  • 81 percent are concerned that it will be easy for people under 21 to buy powdered alcohol

The product is set to launch this summer but some states, including Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont, have already banned it. In Michigan, State Senator Rick Jones has introduced legislation that would prohibit sale and use of powdered alcohol in the state. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and a corresponding bill in the Michigan House is being considered by the Committee on Regulatory Reform.

The high levels of public concern about misuse of powdered alcohol by youth echo previous findings that adults view alcohol abuse as one of the 10 biggest child health problems in the U.S. today.

'In the U.S., parents, communities, and healthcare providers already face serious challenges with underage alcohol abuse and its harmful effects on children's health. This poll indicates common concern among our communities over potential abuse and misuse of powdered alcohol as well as the product's potential to exacerbate the problem of underage drinking,' says Davis, who is also with the UM Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and School of Public Health and deputy director for UM's Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

'Concerns of the public are important to understand as lawmakers across the country consider legislation to restrict or ban the use of powdered alcohol in their states.'


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Twitter: @MottNPCH

Purpose/Funding: The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health -- based at the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan and funded by the University of Michigan Health System -- is designed to measure major health care issues and trends for U.S. children.

Data Source: This report presents findings from a nationally representative household survey conducted exclusively by GfK Custom Research, LLC (GfK), for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital via a method used in many published studies. The survey was administered in May 2015 to a randomly selected, stratified group of adults age 18 (n =1, 982) and older from GfK's web-enabled KnowledgePanel® that closely resembles the U.S. population. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect population figures from the Census Bureau. The survey completion rate was 60% among panel members contacted to participate. The margin of error is ±2 to 4 percentage points.

The findings of the poll reflect the views of the public and do not represent the opinions or positions of the University of Michigan, the University of Michigan Health System, or the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

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