Maryland Says ‘No’ to Moonshine and Vaportinis
Despite prohibition being a thing of the distant past, Maryland recently passed a law to ban the sale of 190-proof grain alcohol.
On July 1, the new legislation went into effect, and prohibits citizens of the state from purchasing spirits with an alcohol content of 95 percent alcohol or higher.
Though new forms of anti-alcohol legislation are uncommon, Maryland isn’t the first state to pass a law against grain alcohol. At least 12 other states have developed similar laws, including Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Supporters of this law say that grain alcohols are much too dangerous and offer college students a fast and cheap way to get dangerously drunk.
“This is a product that college presidents identified as a substantial problem on their campuses,” said David Jernigan, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It packs a wallop that is easily disguised.”
Grain alcohol – often dubbed moonshine or Everclear – is favored by college students, thanks to its cheap price and high potency. With a proof of at least 190, grain alcohol is twice as strong as other liquors.
In a report issued last year, researchers found that 20 percent of all Maryland college students showed signs of alcohol abuse or dependence. Binge drinking college students are more than 36 times more likely to consume grain alcohol than non-binge drinkers.
Vaportinis Banned in Maryland
Another of Maryland’s anti-alcohol bills took place on July 2, this one banning the use of Vaportinis. These devices have a glass sphere filled with alcohol and a single candle beneath it. Once lit, the heat evaporates the alcohol, allowing the user to inhale the alcohol vapors. On inhalation, the vapor is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the lungs.
The Vaportini allows anyone with a bottle of grain alcohol to turn their booze into a breathable and dangerous smoke cloud. Maryland lawmakers voiced concerns over the lack of scientific research conducted on the effects of inhaling alcohol. Experts from the National Alcohol Research Center in Emeryville, California say that inhaling alcohol is more dangerous than drinking, as it bypasses the body’s natural defenses against alcohol toxicity (such as vomiting), exponentially increasing the risk of alcohol poisoning.
Once inhaled, the alcohol vapor seeps into the lung tissue, making its way into the bloodstream and traveling straight to the brain. The almost instantaneous jolt of intoxication seems to make alcohol inhalation even more addictive than regular drinking, according to scientists.
Under Maryland’s new law, anyone caught using the Vaportini device can be charged with a misdemeanor.
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