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 (search) 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.
Kevin Morse, president of Greensboro, N.C.-based Spirit Partners (search), which distributes the machine, debuted AWOL Friday evening at the Manhattan nightspot Trust. He poured fruit juice into the inhaler because he said state law doesn't allow liquor to be stored in anything but its original container.
"I do think the public is ready for this," Morse said. "Alcohol has been consumed for two or three thousand years. This is just a new way to try it."
Democratic state Sen. Carl Kruger pledged to introduce legislation to ban the machine, which is manufactured in England. He called the inhaler a "new form of pipe smoking" and said it could encourage underage drinking and drunken driving.
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (search)'s office said the issue had been referred to the State Liquor Authority, and declined to comment. A message left with the agency was not immediately returned.
"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 wants the AWOL machine banned for fear it will attract underage drinkers.
Morse said the inhaler is intended for adults, and that it would not skew blood alcohol tests.
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."
Peter Rosegarten, who sat on a couch and breathed in the AWOL sans-liquor, gave it a positive review.
"I would do this because I'm a nondrinker, but I'm looking for a buzz," said Rosegarten, 37. "I feel like the oxygen gives you a lightheaded feeling."