Monday, November 14, 2005
7 News Features: Breathing Booze
Call it the evolution of alcohol. A new way of drinking could soon be coming to a club near you. A man in England has invented a way to breathe in your booze. But as Carmel Cafiero explains in this special assignment report, some people fear the machine could leave a very bad taste.
When it comes to having fun, South Florida is second to none. Here, evenings routinely become events... And a night on the town can become the time of your life. But if you thought you'd seen and done it all, our social scene is about to change forever. You have heard of inhaling your drink, well this contraption could soon be in every bar and club in town. It's name - AWOL - an anacroynm for alcohol without liquid. The three-hundred-dollar machine is marketed as "the ultimate party toy."
Dominic Simler: "It's definitely different."
Dominic Simler: "If you compare it to regular drinking, AWOL is much more gentle on your body."
Dominic Simler invented AWOL in England. His machine works by vaporizing your favorite liquor. As he likes to say, it's drinking for the 21st century. Here, consumers are treated to a calorie-free, hangover-free buzz.
Dominic Simler: "Basically, your cutting out the stomach."
Dominic Simler: "You're shortening the process of alcohol into the bloodstream."
Today, curious customers in the U.S. Are no longer waiting to exhale. Now that AWOL has finally made its way across the pond...We decided to ask customers at Mr. Moes in Coconut Grove to give it a try.
"It did burn a little bit at first."
"You don't feel that much alcohol."
"You can definitly taste it."
"Ya, I would do it again."
If there's one person who knows if the coctail craze will cash in, it's veteran bartender Jimmy Diaz.
Jimmy Diaz: "It gives you more of a light headed feeling."
Jimmy Diaz: "I think it will sell. It's just a matter of getting someone to try something they've never tried before."
And while some people complain AWOL does at first create a burning sensation, it will not damage your lungs. Instead, Dr. Raul Tano from Mercy Hospital warns the machine could present other problems. Unlike drinking, he's concerned users will not obtain a feeling of fullness and will not know when they're intoxicated.
Dr. Raul Tano from Mercy Hospital: "You don't get any symptoms with the alcohol mist but that may be a disadvantage because you dont know at what point is enough."
That's what worries State Representative Bob Henriquez from Tampa. He sees AWOL as an easy excuse to get a quick high. Last year, Henriquez tried to pass a bill banning the sale and use of AWOL in Florida.
State Representative Bob Henriquez: "We have enough problems in society without creating more drunk drivers."
Next March, Henriquez plans to reintroduce the bill when the state legislature is back in session. And he's not alone. Other states including New York, Illinois, Colorado, and Alabama have also looked at banning AWOL.
Bob Henriquez: "There are studies and there are scientists that have looked at these AWOL devices that have shown they are more addctive and more quickly addictive."
7 News however could not find any studies being done in the United States. In fact, the only study we know of was done by the Department of Health Alcohol Policy Team in England. And it said using AWOL poses no risk "over and above the risks that may be posed by consuming an equivalent amount of alcohol in an equivalent time period." But we did want to know what would happen if you took a breathlyzer test after breathing in your booze. With the help of Miami-Dade police, 7 News Associate Producer Jessica Ryzenberg agreed to try drinking and inhaling vodka on two different nights. On the first night, she drank four shots in twenty minutes. We then tested her blood alcohol content twice - twenty minutes apart.
Jessica's breath test result is .125 and the second was . 121.
That's almost double the point-zero-eight legal limit. But watch what happens when she uses AWOL for twenty minutes. Her first breathalyzer test measures a point zero-zero-nine. Her second test measures a point zero zero.
Jesica Ryzenberg: "I'm a little bit buzzed, I'm a little bit light headed, but I don't feel drunk or anything like that."
The levels went down because as fast as she was breathing in the alcohol, she was breathing it out.
Jesica Ryzenberg: "You're pretty much dissipating it at the same rate you're absorbing it."
Which means for now, the immediate danger could be the intrigue of experimenting with something new. But depending on who you believe, the long term effects could be sobering.
AWOL will work with nearly any liquor except mixed drinks, beer, and wine. The awol makers reccomend using the machine in twenty minute sessions - but no more than twice a day.
If you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE