Diageo, the world's leading beer, wine and spirits company,said yesterday that it supported the proposed Maryland legislation banning the controversial AWOL ("Alcohol Without Liquid") machines.

Guy Smith, Diageo North America's Executive Vice President said: "AWOL machines should be banned in Maryland and the rest of the country because of concerns that they could encourage alcohol abuse and drunk driving. We applaud the efforts of Delegate Susan McComas [HB 1213] in her efforts to prohibit the use and sale of AWOL machines in Maryland and raise awareness about the potential dangers of these machines."
AWOL machines enable consumers to inhale alcohol vapors.

"We oppose AWOL machines simply because they're not responsible," said Smith. "We are wholly committed to the responsible sale, marketing, advertising and consumption of our products and that's why we work hard to prevent underage drinking and promote responsible behaviors among adults."

In August 2004 it was announced that AWOL would follow its debuts in Europe and Asia with a US launch. Spirit Partners, Inc. acquired the exclusive license to market the AWOL technology in the US at The Trust Lounge in New York's Meat-Packing District. Spirit Partners was looking to sell at least one AWOL dealership in all 50 states.

"We are elated to launch AWOL," said Kevin Morse, president of Spirit Partners, at the time. "We are now able to dispel the rumours that have been expressed in some media reports and show that AWOL is simply a fun, new, exciting way for adults to enjoy alcohol in a responsible manner."

Smith said: "We operate in the most highly regulated industry and all of our products - and those of our competitors - have been carefully scrutinized by the TTB. These AWOL machines have yet to face this same oversight."

Diageo also took action against the distributors of the AWOL machine for their use of the Smirnoff  trademark on their website.

In response to a cease and desist notice from Diageo, the Smirnoff trademark was removed from the site.