By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Police are sounding an alarm about the dangers of vaping alcohol. It comes after an alcohol vaping machine was confiscated from a local bar.

Vaping machines are illegal in Minnesota. And as Reg Chapman shows us, the Department of Public Safety wants to educate those in the industry about the law and the dangers.

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“First I heard of this vaping machine from a friend of mine at a bar in Wisconsin. He told me it was the new biggest thing and people were having fun,” said Curt Woldengen.

Curt Woldengen owns the Round Up bar in Hampton. He thought an alcohol vaping machine would spark business for his neighborhood bar.

“It was new, it didn’t seem dangerous, so I got on the internet and purchased the device last summer,” explained Woldengen. “Unfortunately, I didn’t do my homework.”

Woldengen did not realize alcohol vaping machines are illegal in Minnesota. An anonymous call to police led to the machine to be confiscated and Woldengen fined for breaking the law.

“We want everyone to know whether you are a citizen, a licensee or a bar owner in this state that this is something that is not only illegal, but it’s also potentially dangerous for you and anyone who uses it,” said Special Agent Terry Kelley with the Department of Public Safety.

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Special Agent Terry Kelley says an email has been sent out to the Minnesota alcohol industry to warn them about the illegal device.

“This creates a mist, it takes the alcohol and turns it into tiny alcohol droplets. Nothing is burned,” explained Dr. Ann Arens.

The droplets are collected in a balloon and then inhaled. Medical experts can’t say vaping alcohol is safer than drinking it.

“Remember when you are inhaling alcohol, it’s not just the ethanol that’s in there that you are inhaling,” Dr. Arens explained. “Whatever flavor agents that are in there and those chemicals, we have no idea what effect that will have on the lungs.”

There is also the issue of enforcement. Police say there is no way of testing for alcohol vaping intoxication.

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If you have one of these illegal alcohol vaping machines you can call the Department of Public Safety. They will help you properly dispose of the machine.

Reg Chapman