Alcohol inhalers may face ban

Alcohol inhalers may face ban

By Curran Konarski

Alcohol vaporizers may soon be outlawed in Boston’s bars after receiving little support in a House session last Wednesday.

These devices, recently introduced to the U.S., use an oxygen generator to vaporize alcohol, which enters the blood stream via the lungs. Essentially, the vaporizers provide a quick way to get drunk without carbohydrates or calories.

Alcohol vaporizers are currently outlawed in 16 states. They have also been banned in the town of Somerville. While some consumers are showing interest, others question the safety and legitimacy of alcohol vaporizers.

Spirit Partners, Inc., an alcohol products marketing group, recently acquired the sole license to the alcohol without liquid (AWOL) machine, which it calls the “ultimate party machine,” on its Web site.

AWOL allows one to feel the effects of drinking with half a shot’s worth of alcohol inhaled over a 20-minute period. The effects of these 20-minute sessions are so potent the makers of AWOL warn against consuming more than two shots of 80 proof alcohol in vapor form.

Spirit Partners said in a release that alcohol vaporizers are entirely safe, and eliminate the possibility of hangovers. In the official press release for AWOL, the device is described as “a new low-calorie, low-carbohydrate way for adults to consume alcohol in the United States.”

Individual machines can be ordered online for $250, but are also used to serve shots in bars. Spirit Partners reports on its Web site that the device has been a success in Europe and Asia. This is not the case in Boston, however, at least not among city officials.

On Wednesday, a joint committee on consumer protection and professional licensure held a hearing to determine whether the machine should be banned in Boston.

Don Jordan, a committee member, said, “It’s one thing to drink alcohol, but it’s another to instantly shoot alcohol into your lungs.”

He said he and other members of the legislative branch do not want people getting drunk in an expeditious fashion.

Jordan predicts the issue will go to the Senate and the House and ultimately be made illegal by the governor.

At the moment, however, it is still legal and several students said they would be interested in consuming alcohol in AWOL’s manner.

“It’s just a different way to drink, but you’re not drinking. I definitely want to try it,” said Andoni Chaion, a freshman biochemistry major.

However, Chaion also questions the safety of AWOL and said, “If that was at a frat party, people would definitely die.”

Others recognize that an alcohol vaporizer would make the drinking process much easier. Still, some also believe this to be a possible danger.

“It makes it way too easy to get drunk, so it would probably be pretty hard to control how drunk you get. That’s what makes it pretty dangerous,” said Amy Davin, a freshman English major.

Another safety issue is the possibility of a breathalyzer not being able to effectively determine the blood alcohol level of a person who had been using a vaporizer. This is because, in theory, a person could get drunk without actually ingesting enough alcohol to be legally intoxicated.

“If it can’t be detected with a breathalyzer, the people selling this are not paying any mind to the safety of others,” said George Valiotis, a sophomore civil engineering major.

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