E-cig Devices Being Used by Teens to Smoke Substances Other Than Nicotine

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the 2015 Monitoring the Future (MTF) analysis of e-cigarette usage suggests some teens are using the e-cig devices to inhale marijuana, rather than nicotine. University of Michigan researchers found that at least 6 percent of teens use their e-cig vaporizers for marijuana.

In the MTF survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, researchers surveyed students, grades 8, 10 and 12. Around 6 percent said they don’t know what substance they last vaped, another 6 percent said they vaped marijuana, around 20 percent said they vaped nicotine, and over 65 percent said they vaped “just flavoring.”

According to these findings, the authors of the study recommended that regulators and researchers shouldn’t assume people are use e-cigs to inhale nicotine. They also saw need for prevention programs to curb teen marijuana and nicotine use, particularly for vaporers.

Additionally, researchers called for the term “Electronic Nicotine Delivery System” to be changed by the public health field, since a number of teens are not using e-cigs to vape nicotine. Moreover, they also saw that more research into vaping and vaporizers is necessary in order to examine and manage the public health threat of e-cigs and vaporizers.

A good portion of the adolescent users surveyed didn’t know whether the products they were using in these vaporizers contained nicotine, as some nicotine-free labeled products actually might contain nicotine, regardless of their label. This is another issue the FDA must address: regulating the accuracy of e-cig product labels and ingredients.

The sale of e-cigs to minors was banned by the FDA in May, as previous studies have found that, while many e-cig advocates suggest vaping is a good way to help nicotine addicts stop smoking, the vapor from e-cigs introduces into users’ systems new cancer-causing chemicals.

A study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found two previously undiscovered chemicals that cause cancer present in e-cig vapor. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory uncovered glycerin and propylene glycol – both “probably carcinogens, according to federal health officials – in e-cig vapor, along with 27 other chemicals. Glycerin is an eye, skin and respiratory irritant, while propylene glycol is also an eye and respiratory irritant. These two chemicals help produce the artificial smoke.

When the chemicals are decomposed due to the heat of the e-cig device, toxic chemicals, like formaldehyde and acrolein are also released. Formaldehyde, as well, is a probable carcinogen, according to cancer.gov.

The study tested the vapor of three “e-liquids” in two vaporizers set at different battery settings, in order to assess whether the temperature had any effect on the chemical vapor. They found that the higher the temperature, the more chemicals were dispersed. Moreover, e-cig devices with a single heating coil, as opposed to two coils, released larger amounts of chemical vapor, because the temperature of the coil was higher.

This is not the first study to demonstrate that toxic chemicals are released by e-cigs. In 2009, the FDA put out a warning that diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze, may be emitted by certain e-cigs, while a 2015 study also found that formaldehyde was emitted in the vapor.

As reported by the Washington Post, the study’s author, Hugo Destaillats, a Berkeley Lab researcher, stated, “Advocates of e-cigarettes say emissions are much lower than from conventional cigarettes, so you’re better off using e-cigarettes. I would say, that may be true for certain users — for example, long time smokers that cannot quit — but the problem is, it doesn’t mean that they’re healthy. Regular cigarettes are super unhealthy. E-cigarettes are just unhealthy.”

According to the CDC, from 2011 to 2015, the use of e-cigs has increased among middle and high school students, with around 5.3 percent of middle school students and 16 percent of high school students reporting the use of e-cigs within the past 30 days. E-cigarettes are now part of the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).