- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006


Kentuckians sip their bourbon, and also have been known to cook with it. But inhale it? The very idea of bypassing the taste buds seems sacrilegious in a state that claims to produce the world’s best bourbon, which generates more than $1 billion a year in sales.

State officials in the land of Old Grand-Dad, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey are pushing to ban a device that vaporizes liquor and allows people to inhale the intoxicating fumes for a quick high without the burn of hard liquor.

Teresa Barton, head of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, said banning alcohol vaporizers is a matter of public safety, not preserving the state’s sipping whiskey industry. She said such devices could become “a real deadly trap” because they have “no purpose other than to get you drunk.”

So far, 17 states have banned them, including California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and several others are considering doing so, said Sherry Green, executive director of the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. Tennessee, the home of Jack Daniels, already prohibits the vaporizers.

“When you inhale alcohol right into the lung tissue, that gets drawn right into the blood supply immediately, so it’s a very rapid onset of the intoxicating effect, and so has obviously very high abuse potential,” said Robert Walker, an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky Center on Drug and Alcohol Research.

Kevin Morse, president of Spirit Partners Inc. in Greensboro, N.C., which markets the Alcohol Without Liquid, or AWOL, devices, said they are harmless.

“At the end of the day, it’s just a new way for adults to enjoy alcohol in a different manner,” said Mr. Morse, who sells single-user devices over the Internet for $299 each or multi-user devices for $2,500 each.

The devices, which resemble asthma inhalers, can be used for just about any kind of alcohol, including wine, vodka, even martinis.

Mr. Morse said attempts to ban the devices have been great for business. “We haven’t spent the first dime on advertising,” he said. “When these legislators start repeating these rumors, then we start selling them like crazy.”

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