Alcohol in Ecigs Study

Posted 21st January 2016 by Dave Cross
Yale University’s School of Medicine produces another dubious study that is being used to attack vaping. This time they have looked at the alcohol content of eliquids and locked the details behind a paywall. Yale’s own coverage, and that of the media, uses the study as nothing more than another vehicle to carry unjustified fears to the public.

“Some commercially available e-cigarettes contain enough alcohol to impact motor skills,” claims the university’s news site. It is a bold statement unsupported by quantifiable evidence, making out that your hand-eye coordination is impaired by vaping certain juices. The study has been published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal, but this requires a subscription and runs contrary to Doctor Farsalinos’ excellent policy of allowing free access in order to promote understanding and education.

The study only used two commercially available e-cigarettes with liquids (one at 23.5% alcohol levels and the other 0.4%) - although they claim to have tested other commercial e-cigarette liquids. Of those liquids tested, 75% of them contained less than 1% alcohol.

With the two (presumably) cigalikes, users reported no discernable feelings after use. The implication is intoxication as “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.”

As with previous poor studies, we are given absolutely no indication of the scale to which hand-eye coordination was changed. Nor is there any reference to the volume of alcohol detected in the urine. There are further issues with this as can be confirmed from testing drink drivers: weight, age, fitness, metabolism and the general level of health of the person giving urine can all impact on the quantity of alcohol present. Likewise there is no indication as to the time delay between vaping and urinating, and given the miniscule amount of alcohol present to begin with it makes a mockery of such conclusions.

“The researchers also said it was possible that the presence of alcohol might reinforce the addictive properties of both nicotine and alcohol if inhaled.” Might, could, possibly and maybe; the total lack of evidence isn’t going to stop these guys from speculating. Why? Well because they are concerned about the “youth and other vulnerable populations” from “the widespread and unregulated use of e-cigarettes”.

And that’s enough for media outlets to make daft claims such as: “Some e-cigarette liquids could give you an alcoholic buzz.” The “could” has to be included because they didn’t bother measuring it: “It might only be 30 seconds. It might be two minutes. We don’t know the duration of that effect,” said the lead author. They report him as continuing: “But he said alcoholics might be at risk of relapsing.”

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker