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The description of Bottled Breath from Princes of the Apocalypse says:

This bottle contains a breath of elemental air. When you inhale it, you either exhale it or hold it.

If you exhale the breath, you gain the effect of the gust of wind spell. If you hold the breath, you don’t need to breathe for 1 hour, though you can end this benefit early (for example, to speak). Ending it early doesn’t give you the benefit of exhaling the breath.

What is the action economy cost of using this item? Action? Object interaction? Is it different for "exhale it" and "hold it"?

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One Action

The DMG (p. 141) says:

Activating some magic items requires a user to do something special, such as holding the item and uttering a command word. The description of each item category or individual item details how an item is activated. Certain items use one or more of the following rules for their activation.

If an item requires an action to activate, that action isn't a function of the Use an Item action, so a feature such as the rogue's Fast Hands can't be used to activate the item.

And on p. 139 under "Potions":

Drinking a potion or administering a potion to another character requires an action.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As a side note: It appears that Inhale/Exhale and Inhale/Hold should both be one single action. \$\endgroup\$ – RevanantBacon Feb 17 at 19:43

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