Legislature Approves Bill to Ban Alcohol Vapor Machines

June 22, 2006
The State Legislature today gave final legislative approval to legislation (A.3676-D/S.568-C) that would ban the sale of Alcohol Without Liquid (AWOL) machines. These devices mix spirits, liquor or other alcohol with oxygen or other gases to produce a vapor that is then inhaled.

The machine is being marketed as a hangover-free, calorie-free, and carb-free way to enjoy alcohol. “Actually, it is an alarmingly efficient alcohol-delivery system which has not undergone appropriate scientific testing of the risks it poses to life and health,” said Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, who sponsored the bill in the State Assembly. “Individuals using this device may not realize the immediate effects that alcohol consumption in this manner will have on them and may think that they can get behind the wheel and drive. A few counties have enacted local statutes outlawing the AWOL machines, but we need to put a ban in place on a statewide basis.”

Currently, the device can be easily purchased online. “Because there is no age verification requirement to purchase the machine and the machines are portable, there is the potential that these devices will end up in the hands of underage individuals,” said Schimminger, who chairs the Assembly Economic Development Committee that has oversight of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.

The legislation provides that persons who sell or offer for sale these devices are subject to a fine of up to $5,000 for a first offense, and are guilty of a B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars, for a subsequent offense within five years. In addition, the legislation prohibits the possession or use of a vaporizing device by a bar or tavern, and violators are also subject to a fine of up to $5,000 for a first offense, and are guilty of a B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars, for a subsequent offense within five years.

“New York State has taken major strides in fighting drunk driving and underage drinking. It would be irresponsible to allow this device to hinder the progress we have made,” concluded Schimminger.

This legislation, now awaiting final approval by the governor, is sponsored in the State Senate by Senator Catharine Young.