Legislation would ban alcohol misting device
ST. PAUL -- A new device that vaporizes alcohol to give users a quick high raises the fear of something worse than binge drinking. "It goes directly into the lungs," Paul Kaspszak told a House committee Wednesday. Kaspszak, executive director of ...
ST. PAUL -- A new device that vaporizes alcohol to give users a quick high raises the fear of something worse than binge drinking.
"It goes directly into the lungs," Paul Kaspszak told a House committee Wednesday.
Kaspszak, executive director of the Municipal Beverage Association, demonstrated the machine for the committee.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said he fears the device - known as an "alcohol without liquid" machine - will made the epidemic of binge drinking among youth worse. "We are trying to get out ahead of this," he said.
The House Public Safety Committee voted to consider including it in an overall crime bill.
A user puts a shot of alcohol, such as whisky or vodka, into the AWOL device. The machine turns the alcohol into a mist, and the user puts a nozzle at the end of a tube into his mouth to inhale the vapor.
AWOL, invented in Britain, entered the United States in New York, but now is widely available on the Internet at $300 for a home unit. A commercial unit that can be used by several people at once costs $3,000.
The machines mix oxygen with alcohol to form the mist.
"It is marketed as the ultimate party tool," said Marlene Kjelsberg of the state's Alcohol and Gaming Enforcement Division.
The alcohol mist bypasses the stomach, liver and other bodily filtering systems, Kjelsberg said. It can damage the brain and respiratory system, she added.
AWOL's maker warns against inhaling more than two shots in a day, but Kjelsberg said she fears the machine's safety device easily can be altered so more alcohol can be used than is safe. She also said drinks with more alcohol than the recommended 80 proof would cause more problems.
The AWOL sales pitch says hangovers are less common when using the device.
"If you hate hangovers, you'll love this," the AWOL Web site says.
Lanning said youth will want one of the machines. "This device will have an appeal."
The GOP lawmaker has sponsored other bills to help slow youth drinking because two young men have died in drinking-related incidents in his community recently.
Lanning's bill makes AWOL devices illegal to buy, sell or possess in Minnesota. The measure faced no opposition in the House committee.
Earlier this week, Sen. Jane Ranum, DFL-Minneapolis, took a similar bill to a Senate committee. She said a dozen states already have banned it, in part due to the health concerns raised by its use.
"It takes binge drinking to a whole new level," Ranum told the Senate commerce subcommittee on liquor during a hearing Monday.
Ranum's bill was held up in the committee for further review after lawmakers said the legislation might be too broad and the penalties for possessing a machine too severe.
The penalty for possessing an AWOL machine would be a fine up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail.
Kjelsberg said Minnesota law enforcement officers have found no AWOL machines yet.
But Kaspszak said it will arrive in Minnesota soon. "Word travels fast."
Pioneer Capitol reporter Scott Wente contributed to this story.