Fears over alcohol fumes craze

A NEW social craze involving inhaling alcohol fumes at a Suffolk nightclub could spell disaster for the future well-being of drinkers, it has been warned.

A NEW social craze involving inhaling alcohol fumes at a Suffolk nightclub could spell disaster for the future well-being of drinkers, it has been warned.

Alcohol With Out Liquid (AWOL), has sparked outrage among health officials and drugs experts in Bury St Edmunds, who believe the gimmick could have serious detrimental affects on its users.

The product, which has been launched at the town's Club NRG, allows customers to vaporise their favourite alcoholic drink with the use of pure oxygen.

Its manufacturers claim imbibing alcohol in this way reduces the likelihood of getting a hangover, and “leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling”.

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But last night, Sally Hogg, health improvement manager for Suffolk West Primary Care Trust, said she had two major concerns about the product, which has not been seen anywhere in the whole of East Anglia until now.

“As far as I am aware, this is a new way of consuming alcohol and is therefore unknown and unproven,” she said.

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“Nobody knows what the consequences are in terms of how it affects your body but it sounds very unsafe to me so, for example, I am worried that it may affect the lungs.

“I am also concerned that youngsters will not use AWOL as an alternative to drinking but will continue to consume alcohol in the usual way in addition to inhaling it.”

Consumers of AWOL load their chosen shot into a handset, which can then be inhaled for a maximum of 10 minutes, although no more than two “sessions” - which cost £7 a go - are recommended in a 24-hour period.

The device was first introduced to a bar in Bristol in 2004, when experts warned of everything from brain damage, to being able to pass police breath tests despite being too intoxicated to drive.

Chip Somers, who runs the Bury based drug and alcohol counselling service Focus, said the next step up from inhaling alcohol would be to inject it.

“AWOL is of great concern, and simply involves trying to find a new way of getting people to take more alcohol in what appears to be a very dangerous manner,” he said.

“This product could lead to people conning themselves into thinking they are not consuming alcohol because they are not actually drinking it, and would consume larger amounts as a result.

“There is already a problem with young people drinking more alcohol than they should, and I think AWOL is a completely irresponsible product.

Nicky Crang, owner of Club NRG, said AWOL gives you a “chilled out buzz like never before”, but added that if anything it would make you consume less alcohol than if you were drinking it.

“The idea of it is not to get you really drunk, but is about trying something completely new and different,” she said.

“I have used it a few times during the trial period and I was merry, but not drunk. It is only natural that it will raise a few objections and I can understand why people might be concerned about the product, but I think it is no more dangerous than drinking, and I think it will stand the test of time in Bury.”

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