AUGUSTA – A machine available on the Internet allows users to inhale alcohol instead of drinking it, resulting in a quicker and more intense “buzz,” without carbohydrates or hangovers, according to two brothers in the Legislature.

That may sound good to young people, and it worries Sen. Bruce Bryant, D-Dixfield, and Rep. Mark Bryant, D-Windham.

On Monday, both asked for legislation that would outlaw the sale, use and possession of the so-called “alcohol without liquid” machine in Maine.

Testifying before the legislative Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee, Mark Bryant said he learned of the “alcohol without liquid” machines through an Internet news story.

He went onto the Web page that sells the device, and said he was disturbed to learn the machine works like a nebulizer, only instead of medicine, users breathe in 80 proof alcohol.

That helps make a person get drunker more quickly than if alcohol were swallowed, Bryant explained, because alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream instead of being processed by the stomach and intestines, he explained. Potential health risks from heavy use include brain damage and damage to the mucous membranes in the nasal passages.

Bryant said he’s also concerned that the “alcohol without liquid,” or “AWOL,” machines would lead to more alcohol addiction, already a significant problem in Maine.

The machine has been available in the United States only since August, Bryant said. It is marketed by Spirit Partners at www.awolusa.com. Including Maine, 13 states and Canada are considering banning the machine, Bryant said.

He is not aware whether it is used in Maine yet, but he fears it would be if it is not outlawed. Since the machine leads to quicker and intense buzzes, Bryant questioned how a person could judge whether he or she has breathed in too much alcohol.

His brother agreed.

“Most kids have enough ways to consume alcohol without this device,” Sen. Bryant said.

They had plenty of backing.

No one spoke against L.D. 1155.

Support came from the U.S. Distilled Spirits Council, the Maine Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, Miller Brewing Co., the Maine Restaurant Association, and Diageo, a global drinks business whose lines include Guinness, Baileys, Johnnie Walker and Captain Morgan.

Other support came from the Maine Department of Public Safety, the Maine Office of Substance Abuse, and a group working to reduce alcohol overconsumption on Maine’s college and university campuses.

“It’s a party machine,” said Dick Grotton of the Maine Restaurant Association. “It has no purpose” except for someone to get drunk. “It has no place in Maine,” Grotton said.

“If the users of this product do not face the prospect of a hangover, it could lead to overconsumption,” and more drunk drivers, said Lt. Patrick Fleming of the Maine State Police.

Rebecca Ireland of Maine’s Higher Education Alcohol Prevention Partnership said there are many unknowns about AWOL machines because they are so new. Saying young people want to do everything “faster and more intense,” she’s concerned it would appeal to college students, and become a “glorified” way of getting drunk.

Recent reports she has heard from students returning from spring break in Florida were that this year, unlike other years, students were using the machines, Ireland said. At those spring break parties, she said, students were inhaling alcohol and drinking alcohol at the same time.

Her group is working to create lower risks on college campuses. “This device will go against everything we’re working for,” Ireland said.

The bill will be taken up in a work session. That session had not been scheduled as of Monday.


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