Baltimore Statement on Dangers of Powdered Alcohol

Powdered alcohol is a concentrated powder that contains approximately 55% alcohol by weight. It can be easily carried and concealed, and then mixed with water to reconstitute.

The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved labeling and distribution of powdered alcohol in April of 2014. Within two weeks, it reversed this decision. Then, in March 2015, the Tax and Trade Bureau suddenly approved the product labels—essentially approving powdered alcohol for widespread sale and distribution.

As pediatricians, emergency physicians, and public health leaders, we have grave concerns over the sale and use of this product. In Baltimore, alcohol is already the number one drug used by teens, with over half of high school students having tried alcohol, and 1 in 8 teens binge drinking at least once in the past month. Children who first use alcohol at age 15 are four times more likely to have an alcohol use disorder sometime in their life.

Powdered alcohol is easier to conceal, facilitating use by youth. It will make oversight more difficult for parents, teachers, and law enforcement officials. Powdered alcohol may also lead to greater and unintentional alcohol consumption, which can lead to poisoning, motor vehicle accidents, and even death.

As of today, five states (VA, LA, AK, VT, SC) have already banned powdered alcohol before its approval, and at least 22 other states are proposing bans in their legislatures (including AZ, CO, CT, FL, HI, KS, IL, IN, IA, MI, MN, NJ, NY, ND, OH, OK, PA, RI, TN, UT, WI, WY).

Please join Baltimore’s health department and our region’s leading pediatricians and emergency physicians to protect our children and all of our residents from this dangerous substance.

Leana S. Wen, M.D.
Commissioner
Baltimore City Health Department
 
Steven J. Czinn, MD
Chairman of Pediatrics
University of Maryland School of Medicine;
Physician-in-Chief,
University of Maryland Children's Hospital
G. D. Kelen, M.D., FRCP(C), FACEP
Director, Department of Emergency Medicine
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Michael Crocetti, M.D.
Chief of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins Community Physicians
Brian J. Browne, M.D.
Professor and Chairman
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine
 
Jean Silver-Isenstadt, M.D., Ph.D.
Executive Director
National Physicians
Alliance
 
Joseph Wiley, M.D.
Chief of Pediatrics
Sinai Hospital
 
Mahmood Jaberi, M.D.
President
Baltimore City Medical Society
William Jaquis, M.D., FACEP
Chief of Emergency Services, LifeBridge Health
Michael Langbaum, M.D.
Chief of Pediatrics
University of Maryland
St. Joseph Medical Center
William B. Jordan, M.D.
President
National Physicians Alliance
David D. Hager, M.D., FACEP
Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine
MedStar Harbor Hospital
Michael G. Burke, M.D.
Chairman of Pediatrics
Saint Agnes Hospital
Kevin H. Scruggs, M.D., FACEP
Chief of Emergency Medicine
MedStar Good
Samaritan Hospital
 
Susan Chaitovitz, M.D., FAAP
President, Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
 
Joneigh Khaldun, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Baltimore City Health Department
Susan Dulkerian, M.D.
Interim Chair of Pediatrics
Mercy Medical Center
 
Pascal Crosley, D.O.
Chairman of
Emergency Services
St. Agnes Hospital
 
Tina Cheng, M.D.
Chair of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
 
Esti Schabelman, M.D., MBA
Asst. Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine;
Chief of Emergency Medicine, Bon Secours Hospital Baltimore
 
Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D.
Associate Dean
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
 
Patrick Chaulk, M.D.
Assistant Commissioner
Baltimore City Health Department
 
Tyler Cymet, D.O., FACP, FACOFP
Chief of Clinical Education, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine; President of
MedChi, The Maryland
State Medical Society
 
Gregory Branch, M.D., MBA, CPE
Director, Health and Human Services; Director, Department of Social Services; Health Officer
and Director, Department of Health
Laurel G. Yap, M.D.
Director of Pediatrics
Harbor Hospital
 
David H. Jernigan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

References

Albers, AB, Siegel, M, Ramirez, RL, Ross, C, DeJong, W, and Jernigan, DH. Flavored Alcoholic Beverage Use, Risky Drinking Behaviors, and Adverse Outcomes Among Underage Drinkers: Results From the ABRAND Study. American Journal of Public Health. 2015;105(4):810-815.

Bouchery EE, Henrick J, Harwood HJ, Sacks JJ, Simon CJ, Brewer RD. Economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States, 2006. Am J Prev Med. 2011;41(5):516-524.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol-Related Disease Impact Software. 2012; http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/DACH_ARDI/Default/Default.aspx. Accessed 19 March 2015.

Grant, B.F. & Dawson, D.A. Age at onset of alcohol use and it association with DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: Results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. Journal of Substance Abuse. 1997;9:103-110.

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/cdp/SitePages/youth-risk-survey.aspx Accessed 19 March 2015.

National Conference of State Legislatures. Powdered Alcohol 2015 Legislation. http://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/powdered-alcohol-2015-legislation.aspx  Accessed 19 March 2015.
 

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