E-cigarettes deliver nicotine by vaporizing liquids, which often contain alcohol and other chemicals in addition to nicotine. In the new study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers tested subjects who used two commercially available e-cigarettes with liquids containing either high (23.5%) or low (0.4%) amounts of alcohol.
While neither group reported feeling differently after inhaling vapor, the group who used e-cigarettes with the high alcohol level performed more poorly on psychomotor tests and in some instances also had detectable levels of alcohol in their urine.
About 75% of the commercial e-cigarette liquids tested in the study contained less than 1% alcohol. However, the authors note some e-cig users create their own liquids with higher alcohol content and that almost nothing is known about the prevalence and patterns of using e-liquids that contain alcohol.
The researchers also said it was possible that the presence of alcohol might reinforce the addictive properties of both nicotine and alcohol if inhaled.
“Given the widespread and unregulated use of e-cigarettes, especially by youth and other vulnerable populations, further studies are needed to evaluate both the acute safety and long-term health risks of using alcohol-containing e-cigarettes,” said Mehmet Sofuoglu, of Yale’s Department of Psychiatry and VA Connecticut Healthcare system, who is senior author of the paper.
Gerald Valentine of Yale is first author of the paper. Other Yale authors include Peter Jatlow, Marcedes Coffman, Haleh Nadim, and Ralitza Gueorguieva
Funding for the research was provided by the New England Mental Illness Research Education Clinical, Centers, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institute for Drug Abuse, and FDA Center for Tobacco Products.
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