Alcohol inhaling machine goes on display in New York

Sunday, August 22, 2004

NEW YORK -- A machine that lets drinkers inhale shots of alcohol went on display Friday night, even as one local lawmaker warned the device was "a disaster waiting to happen."

The Alcohol Without Liquid vaporizer mixes the alcohol with pressurized oxygen. Makers say it takes about 20 minutes to breathe in one shot, giving drinkers the effect of alcohol without the drunkenness, or hangover.

Democratic state Sen. Carl Kruger pledged to introduce legislation to ban its use, calling the inhaler, manufactured in England and distributed domestically by North Carolina-based Spirit Partners, a "new form of pipe smoking" and saying it could encourage underage drinking and drunken driving.

"It becomes a whole enforcement issue," Kruger said. "The way we test alcohol levels will be skewed and so will all the direction we've taken in this state to lower blood alcohol levels."

Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano said he also feared the machine would attract underage drinkers.

The machine went on display for a sneak peak at the bar Trust, in Manhattan. But bar and lounge owners in New York may be wary, said Bob Zuckerman, executive director of the New York Nightlife Association.

"We don't know if this device is legal and in addition we don't know if it is safe," Zuckerman said. "Our members and most bar owners are responsible and I'm sure they'll tread very carefully before putting a device such as this in their establishments."

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