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Cigarettes and Alcohol Interlocks

April 16, 2021
Worried about smoking while using an interlock device? It's true that cigarettes don't always play nice with breathalysers, but by taking a few extra precautions you can make it work for you.


They can cause false positives

With studies finding that cigarettes contain over 4000 types of chemicals in them, it's little wonder that they can cause your breathalyser device to read false positives. It's not very common, but with all the different makes and brands of cigarettes, there's no guarantee that one of the thousands of substances in a smoke won't cause a reading for you.

What does that mean for you?

The good news is that you won't have to give up smoking completely. Just make sure that you don't smoke in the ten minutes leading up to a breath test, and drink water to clear your mouth of contaminants directly before the test.

If you still choose to smoke while driving, it's really important that when a rolling retest is announced, you pull over and clear your mouth out with water before taking your test. Depending on your state regulations, your interlock device will be programmed to allow you either 5 or 10 minutes to provide your test, giving you plenty of time to do it right.


Exhaling smoke or vapour directly into a breathalyser can cause long term damage to the device.

Cigarette smoke can damage interlock devices

Alcohol interlock devices need to be extremely sensitive and precise. If cigarette smoke is exhaled directly into the device, over time particles can build up in the sensor, affecting the reliability of the interlock device. An unreliable device will hurt your program in the long term, and may even require replacement at your expense.

What does that mean for you?

As with above, it's important that you don't smoke directly before giving a test. Always clear your mouth out with plain water before giving a breath sample. Finally, never exhale cigarette smoke directly into the device.


How about e-cigarettes?

There is still a lot of uncertainty about how vaping affects alcohol interlock devices, but one thing is certain; the wide range of e-liquids you can use means that the impact on your interlock device is likely to vary between different flavours and manufacturers.

Take the same precautions as you would with regular cigarettes; don't smoke for ten minutes before a test and rinse your mouth out with water. Never exhale vapour directly into the device. Be extra cautious of using e-liquids which contain alcohol.