E-Cigarettes being used in creative, questionable ways


Though there are studies that show e-cigarettes may produce fewer toxins, there’s another reason this popular alternative can be harmful.

Man smoking e-cigarette via iStock Photo

Though questions still remain on whether e-cigarettes are in fact a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco, the newest way people, mostly teens, are using these e-cigarettes is certainly not a better way to get a nicotine fix.

“Dripping” as it is being called, is a new way of using an e-cigarette to directly heat and consume the vapor-liquid by dripping it into the heater, rather than placing it in a chamber that would slowly release it into the heater as it is intended. The main reasons this trend is becoming popular include having thicker smoke, better flavor or to have a better throat sensation from the hit.

Directly hitting the liquid in uncontrolled amounts depending on what the user puts in could be more harmful than using the e-cigarette in a traditional manner. A lead researcher on this method, Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin who is a professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, questions what the side effects of dripping could potentially be. “The levels of some chemicals like formaldehyde and other aldehydes, which are known carcinogens, are higher with direct dripping than with conventional e-cigarette use,” Krishnan-Sarin said. Per Krishnan-Sarin the level of carcinogens is still not as high as a cigarette, they are higher than the intended method of an e-cigarette.

“The levels of some chemicals like formaldehyde and other aldehydes, which are known carcinogens, are higher with direct dripping than with conventional e-cigarette use.”

Though no one should be using this alternative method, it seems to have the most potential to be dangerous among it’s most likely users. Studies by Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine show that teenage brains are most sensitive to nicotine use and dripping directly gives them an even larger dose than normal e-cigarette use. Dr. Karen Wilson, chief of general pediatrics for Mount Sinai Health System in New York City believes it could have harmful effects. “Adolescents should not be using nicotine at all,” Wilson said. “It changes the brain chemistry, and adolescents are uniquely susceptible to the addictive properties of nicotine.”

In a study of 1,874 high school students reported by USA Today, 1,080 students had used an e-cigarette. Of those 1,080, 282 (26%) had tried dripping. Out of those who had tried dripping white males were the most common to have had experimented. It was also more popular among people who had tried other tobacco products as well.

An example of dripping via A Guide to Dripping

Even the president of the American Vaping Association, an organization that is dedicated to educating the public and government officials about public health benefits offered by vapor products, Gregory Conley has tried to take action on teenagers using e-cigarettes. “All vapor products, including those that do not contain nicotine, should be kept out of the hands of youth. Nonetheless, it is also important to keep the science in perspective,” said Conley.

According to the previously stated study this practice is legal, but it could lead to addiction to dripping or branch out to finding other ways to obtain nicotine. Another concern with the usage of e-cigarettes is there is still no approval or regulation done by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They have plans to regulate them as a tobacco product but have not taken any action.

By: Conner Burks

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