Ky. legislators to consider banning alcohol vaporizers

Students looking for a new way to get a buzz may have to cross state lines if a proposed law passes the state Senate.

A bill that would ban Alcohol Without Liquid, a machine that vaporizes alcohol and mixes it with oxygen, passed a Senate panel last week. The machine produces a mist that over 20 minutes is equal to taking one shot of distilled spirits.

Alcohol Without Liquid is already banned in 21 other states, including Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee.

Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, said one of the reasons she sponsored House Bill 202 is that the company selling Alcohol Without Liquid is marketing to college students. The device has undergone no governmental testing, so it could be extremely dangerous, she said.

“How many college-age students read the fine print when they have a good time?” Westrom said. “It just doesn’t happen.”

The company’s Web site, which calls Alcohol Without Liquid “the most exciting thing to happen to people who like to party since the discovery of alcohol,” says the device gives users a new, low-calorie way to enjoy alcohol. It also says the product is completely safe.

“It combines alcohol with extra oxygen to produce a cloudy alcohol vapor, which can be safely inhaled,” the site said. “The impact is immediate. The effect is lasting and hangovers are history.”

No representative for the company could be reached by press time.

Out of 50 students asked in the White Hall Classroom Building Friday, five said they had heard of Alcohol Without Liquid. None said they had tried it.

Several students said they would try the vaporizer if they were given the chance, because of their desire to try new things or drink alcohol without going to the restroom often. But the majority of students said Alcohol Without Liquid sounded unsafe.

“If they’re not testing it, I wouldn’t feel comfortable trying it,” said English senior Mike Robinson. “I’m not sure if it should be a banning issue. But they should do testing.”

Two bills that would change how Kentucky arrests drivers under the influence of controlled substances, including illegal drugs, look like they will die in committee, said Rep. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, who chairs the committee the bills are now in.

House Bill 30 and Senate Bill 71 both make driving with a certain amount of controlled substance in the urine or blood illegal.

Right now, drivers can be arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs. However, since there are no tests for drug impairment similar to the Breathalyzer test for alcohol intoxication, conviction requires the prosecutor to prove the person was impaired through methods like expert testimony.

Stein said the bills have not been heard in her committee because the urine and blood tests are unconstitutional.

“With (House Bill 30 and Senate Bill 71), if you have any trace of an illegal substance in your system, you would be presumed to be impaired, and that’s not how we do it,” Stein said.

Right now, UK Police only handles a “handful” of cases of drivers using controlled substances every year, said interim police chief Maj. Joe Monroe. University police normally deal with drivers under the influence of alcohol, he said.