Growing evidence suggests there are multiple harms associated with the use of e-cigarettes, and most respiratory therapists caution their patients against their use. Not only do these electronic devices contain dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein, they are also increasingly being used as a substitute for cigarettes rather than as a path to quitting.
Now new research published online ahead of print by Pediatrics is adding yet another dimension to the problem. Yale University investigators who surveyed 1,080 e-cigarette users at eight Connecticut high schools in 2015 found 26.1% had tried an alternative method of e-cigarette use called “dripping” that may be even more harmful than regular e-cigarette use.
If you haven’t heard of it, here’s how it works: instead of inhaling from the e-cigarette mouthpiece, kids are applying the e-cigarette liquid directly to the battery-powered coil. That heats the liquid to a higher temperature and produces thicker vapor clouds and a stronger hit in the back of throat when it is inhaled. The taste is said to be more pleasurable as well.
Unfortunately, heating the liquid to higher temperatures has been shown in previous studies to potentially increase exposure to the harmful chemicals contained in the liquid.
The Yale investigators believe more analysis is needed to determine just how dangerous dripping is and they also urge regulators to consider imposing restrictions aimed at ensuring e-cigarettes cannot be modified for uses like dripping.
“Everybody assumes vaping is a safer way of administering nicotine, but we know so little about the risks of vaping,” study author Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, professor of psychiatry at Yale, was quoted as saying. “What we are discovering with our work with youth is that kids are actually using these electronic products for other behaviors, not just for vaping e-liquids from cartridges or tanks.”
The research was supported by both the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products. The FDA began regulating e-cigarettes in August of last year.