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Through the Looking Glass Part II: Abuse of the Evolving Electronic Cigarette and the Impact of Vaping Ethanol in the Evaluation of Impairment

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $1,241,355)

Electronic cigarettes have been shown to produce fine and ultra-fine aerosol particles facilitating the absorption of drugs into the bloodstream. E-cigarettes are advertised to be a healthier alternative to cigarette smoking, but current generations are customizable, opening an avenue for abuse potential with Drugs Other Than Nicotine (DOTNs). E-cigarette models continue to evolve, allowing users to vape a wider variety of substances, such as waxes, resins, and solid plant materials and to also conceal the devices more effectively. Several publications have also demonstrated e-liquids to contain a range of ethanol concentrations, as high as 23% ethanol. Vaping (inhaling) ethanol absorbs and distributes differently than is understood when drinking ethanol. The impact of vaping ethanol on the pharmacokinetics of ethanol will be evaluated at two critical points, during absorption and elimination.

The two types of evidentiary breath alcohol testing equipment, the fuel cell and the infrared analyzers, will be evaluated for potential interferences from chemicals produced in an e-cigarette aerosol and exhaled into the instrument. A collaboration with the Virginia Department of Forensic Science and the VCU Police Department will facilitate the administration of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and breath analyses. Blood, urine, and oral fluid will be collected and analyzed in order to evaluate the correlation of ethanol biomarkers and impact of vaping and any influence to impairment from vaping ethanol.

Finally, continual evolution of e-cigarette devices and vaping products will be monitored and characterized as they continue to be promoted on internet sites as effective devices for consuming DOTNs. The results of this research will support the collection and interpretation of evidence performed roadside and will support forensic toxicologists as they testify.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14).


Date Created: September 16, 2019