Alcohol without Liquid Comes to New York
Last week-end, New Yorkers could inhale their gin, vodka and rum literally rather than figuratively. A
machine, already in use in Europe and Asia, allows one to breathe in a vaporized liquor. It's low-carb,
low-calorie, and because it's oxygen enriched, it reduces the hangover the morning after. The AWOL
machine is already illegal in New South Wales, Australia, because of health and public safety concerns.
Immediately north of New York City, Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano is already trying to get
rid of the device. Clearly, this case of doing something stupid shouldn't be aggravated by making that
Alcohol is a drug, and like any drug, there are those who can't handle it. The method of delivery of any drug
will affect its potency and the effectiveness of the dose. Injection is usually the most efficient method of
deliver, oral ingestion far less so, while breathing (or smoking) the fumes is somewhere in between. So what
the AWOL machine does is deliver ethanol more efficiently (in the sense that it hits faster and harder) than
simply drinking the booze.
Spirit Partners, the American distributor of the machine, says it won't beat a breathalyzer (since the alcohol
still enters via the mouth), and it should only be used once an hour and no more than twice in a 24-hour
period, while maintaining that AWOL isn't any more dangerous than drinking. The company says that the
effect is immediate because the ethanol hits the bloodstream much faster. Detractors say the same thing.
The difficulty with banning the AWOL machine is the legality of alcohol itself. The machine is nothing more
than a glorified atomizer, so the question becomes one of use. When used to spray perfume, an atomizer
would be legal, but when used to spray alcohol, it would be criminal. How many millions would need to be
spent to make sure that the Jack Daniels in someone's bloodstream went via the stomach rather than the
A far better way to deal with this is to leave it alone, and let this silly fad die of its own accord. In England
about 25 years ago, there was a similar fad among a much more serious drug-abuse crew, which involved
injecting ethanol. While it still may occur, it never really caught on after one rather stupid summer among a
few rather stupid people (who were also doing far worse things to themselves). Besides, a decent Scotch is
too expensive for anything but proper sipping. And life is too short to drink the cheap stuff.
© Copyright 2004 by
The Kensington Review, J. Myhre, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without