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NY Senator Fighting To Ban Powdered Alcohol, Cites Health And Safety Concerns

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A controversial new product, powdered alcohol, has been approved by the federal government, but now some states want it banned.

As CBS2's Dick Brennan explained, all you have to do is mix the powder with water, shake and presto—you've got yourself a cocktail.

Palcohol inventor Mark Phillips said he likes drinking after outdoor activities but didn't like lugging bottles wherever he went.

"If there are any outdoor enthusiasts and they like biking, backpacking, kayaking, boating, anywhere where weight is an issue, having powdered alcohol is a lot lighter than liquid alcohol," he said.

Four varieties won government approval: rum, vodka, cosmopolitan and "powderita," which is like a margarita.

"It'll be sold in stores and we're expecting it to be sold online also," Phillips said.

Some, including Sen. Charles Schumer, want the product banned outright.

"This Palcohol can be the Kool-Aid for our kids. Drop one bag or many more in a glass of water, it's very easy to ingest a huge amount of alcohol quickly," Schumer said.

Palcohol makes a variety of powdered alcohol products. (credit: CBS 2)

Schumer said Palcohol is as dangerous as Four Loko, which first hit store shelves in 2005 and was later banned in several states.

According to Phusion Projects, the maker of Four Loko, the company reformulated the product in 2010 by removing caffeine, guarana and taurine. It has not been made with caffeine since, according to the company.

Critics also say powdered alcohol could be used to spike drinks or be snorted for a quicker buzz, but Phillips said that's not true.

"It really burns to snort it, really uncomfortable because it's alcohol, as it would be if you sniffed liquid vodka," he said.

Phillips said each vodka packet contains enough alcohol to fill only one shot glass.

"Why do we want big government telling us what we can drink and what we can't drink? We don't need a nanny government telling us what we can do," he said.

"This is about the health of our kids, not about a nanny government. This stuff can be deadly. Young people will abuse it," Schumer said.

Phillips said he hopes to have it on shelves by summer. However, Schumer is introducing federal legislation to stop the sale or even possession of Palcohol and said he feels as though he will have bipartisan support.

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