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You Really Can Inhale That Drink

pink alcoholic drink with cocktail umbrella
AP
A new machine that allows bar-hoppers to inhale liquor instead of drinking it is set to make its debut in New York City Friday night.

There's already an effort to get it banned.

The machine combines alcohol and oxygen to create an inhalable alcoholic mist.

It's called Alcohol Without Liquid - or AWOL - and it's already available in Europe and Asia. Its American distributor, Spirit Partners, is touting it as both "the ultimate party toy" and a low-carb, low-calorie and hangover-free alternative to drinking.

The company says AWOL sends alcohol into the bloodstream faster than drinking, resulting in a quick buzz. But it also says the level of alcohol in the body after AWOL use is lower than for traditional drinkers.

There may be hazards, says one New York elected official, Westchester County Executive Andy Spano.

Spano has sent a letter to the governor and the state attorney general asking them to determine whether AWOL might already be against the law - and if not, push for legislation to make it illegal.

"This product poses a health risk and could increase alcohol abuse, underage drinking and drunk driving," says Spano, who doubts all customers would stick to the AWOL guidelines of using the machine for just 20 minutes an hour, and just twice within 24 hours.

Spano also believes some might double up, loading up on both AWOL and traditional drinks.

The president of Spirit Partners, North Carolina lawyer Kevin Morse, discounts such worries, although the company's web site does include usage warnings and a standard disclaimer that it accepts no liability for the "use, misuse or abuse" of the machine.

"The truth is," says Morse, in a recent interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "it's a fairly innocuous product."