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Yale study finds alcohol level in some e-cigarette liquids can affect motor skills

NEW HAVEN >> Some e-cigarette liquids could give you an alcoholic buzz, a new Yale School of Medicine study has found.

But an author of the study said commercially available e-cigarettes are not high in alcohol.

According to Dr. Gerald Valentine of the Yale Psychiatry Department, the risk of ingesting enough alcohol to cause impairment comes from e-cig liquids that are bought on the Internet, or from enthusiasts who mix their own vaping liquids.

The liquid that e-cigarettes vaporize, which contains nicotine, includes additional chemicals, including alcohol. The researchers studied e-cig liquids bought on the Internet containing between 0.4 percent and 23.5 percent alcohol, but the highest percentage represented just one of 31 samples, Valentine said. Most had less than 3 percent alcohol.

The brand with 23.5 percent alcohol was Virgin Vapor of California, he said. A message left with Virgin Vapor was not immediately returned.

Those who “vaped” the high-alcohol brand did not report feeling differently after using the e-cigarette, but tested lower on psychomotor tests and some were found to have alcohol in their urine, the study found.

Valentine said it is unclear how long any impairment might last. “It might only be 30 seconds. It might be two minutes. We don’t know the duration of that effect,” he said.

But he said alcoholics might be at risk of relapsing by inhaling even low levels of alcohol, presenting “a whole different set of health issues.”

He said previous studies have looked at other chemicals that could be harmful if inhaled, but not alcohol.

While the study subjects were adults, Valentine said, “We have a lot of contact with young smokers who use e-cigarettes. They’re enthusiasts. They’re experimenting.”

Dr. Mehmet Sofuoglu of Yale’s Department of Psychiatry, senior author of the study, said in a release, “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.”

The study was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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