Users of commercially available electronic cigarettes with a high alcohol level can get drunk, according to a Yale University study. The research showed the effect of vaping did substantially impair motor skills, but did not include the normal “buzz” associated with drinking alcohol.
For the past several years, e-cigs have become wildly popular as users to seek out alternatives to traditional tobacco products, which have shown to cause health complications. Powered by a battery, an e-cig vaporizes a liquid often containing nicotine and flavorings.
According to the study, if enough alcohol is ingested via the e-cigs, the booze can be detected in urine. The amount wasn’t enough to prompt a DUI charge, yet the effect of the vaporized e-liquid caused a quick and efficient intoxication that could make driving a vehicle dangerous.
Dr. Mehmet Sofuoglu, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine who co-authored the study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, finds the research troubling.
He fears the alcohol-enhanced e-cig vapors may lead young users to both alcohol and nicotine addictions. In a related Inquisitr report, e-cigarettes do not help traditional tobacco smokers kick the habit.
Additionally, many e-cig smokers make their own vaping liquids which often contain even higher alcohol levels than ones commercially sold.
Researchers tested 31 liquids, two-thirds of which contained a measurable amount of alcohol. While most of the booze-infused liquids had an alcohol content between 0.75 to three percent, one flavor, French vanilla made by Virgin Vapor, contained an overwhelming 23.5 percent.
Researchers specifically compared that liquid to another Virgin Vapor product, organic naked vanilla, which had only 0.4 percent alcohol. Over two days, 16 volunteers, who regularly smoke tobacco and drink alcohol, tried one liquid one day and the other the next.
After an initial five-minute e-cigarette vaping session, none of the users indicated any feeling of intoxication. This remained true even after a 20-minute session when the participants could puff as much as they wanted.
“They didn’t actually know they were under the influence of alcohol,” said Dr. Sofuoglu. “It still influenced their performance.”
A motor skills test was given, which required each participant to put metal pins into a hole. During repeated tests over a 30-second period, the participants had to place the pins with their dominate hands, non-dominant, then both hands.
After the volunteers vaped with the high-alcohol liquid, the test results were much worse than after the lower-alcohol liquid was used. The scores were particularly worse after the 20-minute vaping session.
When a person drinks alcohol, the intoxicating effect is noticed as more booze is consumed. Yet, the Yale research shows the effects of vaping an e-cig with an alcohol-infused liquid are not the same.
“In this study, they had motor impairment,” Dr. Sofuoglu said, “but they didn’t know they were intoxicated.”
The CEO of Virgin Vapor, Annette Rogers, noted that while the company has organic flavors that contain ethyl alcohol, they prefer not to use it.
“When we first started our company in 2010, the only flavors available that were suitable for use in e-liquid were ones extracted using organic ethyl alcohol. Since that time and with the help of our chemist, Dr. Marc Foster, we have developed new and better flavors that do not require organic ethyl alcohol as an extraction method,” Rogers said.
She also said that most of their current products do not contain alcohol.
While there are some commercially produced e-cig liquids that contain a high amount of alcohol, the study pointed out that roughly 75 percent of them have less than one percent. Nonetheless, e-cigarettes are unregulated, so consumers never really know just how much alcohol is contained in the product.
The Yale research did not make any conclusions as to whether the effects of vaping are more or less dangerous than traditional tobacco cigarettes to a user’s health.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]