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New Machine Lets People Inhale Alcohol

It hasn't even arrived, and already some people want it banned.

A machine that combines alcohol and oxygen to create an inhalable alcoholic mist is set to debut in New York City this weekend, but Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano wants a local or state ban against it because he worries it will attract underage drinkers.

Spano said the Alcohol Without Liquid Machine (search) would harm efforts to drive down underage teen drinking and driving under the influence.

"This is really attractive to youngsters," Spano told the Journal News of Westchester in Thursday's editions.

"It's portable, and it will wind up at parties with kids. ... We don't want it in Westchester, and in fact, we don't want it in the state," Spano added.

Westchester has a chronic underage drinking problem, and recently enlisted the help of a Justice Department contractor, the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, to investigate the problem.

Over the past 18 months or so, teen drinking in Westchester has led to at least one party death, some spectacles of widespread drunkenness at school events and some police raids on home drinking parties.

The machine, created in England and already in use in other parts of the world, has users wear a mask and breathe in the alcoholic vapor. Promoters praise it for inducing a sense of well-being and say it doesn't lead to hangovers.

The machine is set to show up at the Trust Lounge (search) in Manhattan on Friday. Its American distributor is Spirit Partners, of North Carolina.

Kevin Morse of Spirit told the newspaper, "It's just a fun new way for adults to experience alcohol." He said the machines were being sold to bars and individuals, at a cost between $3,000 and $3,600.

"A lot of people haven't seen the machine yet and are acting off of a lot of rumors," he said.

No bars in Westchester have bought the machine, but Spano said his concern was that any venue offering it would have a difficult time keeping track of how much alcohol a customer is using.

Spano isn't the only elected official to be concerned about the machines. Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper had said last month he wanted to keep them out of that county, and that the county Legislature would be discussing it at upcoming meetings.