Big U.S. tobacco companies are all developing e-cigarettes,
battery-powered gadgets with a heating element that turns liquid
nicotine and flavorings into a cloud of vapor that users inhale.
For the past decade, public health experts have debated whether the
gadgets might help with smoking cessation or at least be a safer
alternative to traditional combustible cigarettes, or whether
“vaping” e-cigarettes or vape pens might lure a new generation into
The current study suggests at least some of the answers to these
safety questions may have to account how people use e-cigarettes to
get their nicotine hit, said Dr. Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, a
psychiatry researcher at Yale University School of Medicine in New
“The risks of short term and long term use of e-cigarettes are not
known,” Krishnan-Sarin said by email.
While e-cigarettes may contain fewer toxicants than traditional
cigarettes, they do contain chemicals like propylene glycol and
glycerin, “which when heated at high temperatures like with
‘dripping’ can produce high levels of carcinogenic compounds like
aldehydes,” Krishnan-Sarin added.
“E-liquids also contain many flavor chemicals such as aldehydes,
vanillins and alcohols which are considered safe for ingestion, but
little is known about the toxicity of inhaling these chemicals,
especially when they are volatilized at high temperatures,”
To assess how often teens tried “dripping,” researchers examined
2015 survey data from 7,045 students in eight Connecticut high
Overall, 1,080 teens, or about 15 percent, said they had tried
e-cigarettes, researchers report in Pediatrics.
About 26 percent of e-cigarettes users had tried dripping. Most
often, teens did this to produce thicker clouds of vapor, though
they sometimes tried dripping to enhance flavors of the liquid
nicotine or to heighten the feeling of smoke inhalation in the
throat or lungs.
The study didn’t examine what flavors teens used for dripping or
assess how much nicotine might be in the liquids adolescents used,
the authors note.
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Another limitation is that a large proportion of teens said they
didn’t know whether they had tried dripping, which might have led
the authors to underestimate the prevalence of this behavior.
It’s also not clear from one year of survey data that dripping is
gaining in popularity, and it may actually be falling out of favor,
said Dr. Riccardo Polosa, a researcher at the University of Catania
in Italy who wasn’t involved in the study.
Dripping was common in the early days of e-cigarettes when the
devices had open-system atomizers and no tanks to hold liquid,
Polosa said by email. It was considered a nuisance because users had
to carry a bottle with liquids, add more fluids frequently and worry
about flooding the atomizer.
Newer e-cigarette devices make dripping unnecessary, Polosa said.
Still, there’s cause for concern, said Maciej Goniewicz, a
researcher at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York,
who wasn’t involved in the study.
“Although this study does not look at the health effects of
‘dripping’ in youths, laboratory tests showed that ‘dripping’
increases risk of inhaling high doses of nicotine and cancer-causing
chemicals from e-cigarettes,” Goniewicz said by email.
“Inhaling aerosols from e-cigarettes seems to be less risky as
compared to smoking tobacco cigarettes, but ‘dripping’ is not a safe
technique for using e-cigarettes and should be avoided,” Goniewicz
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2kG191X Pediatrics, online February 6, 2017.
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