BY KEVIN CONNOR, TORONTO SUN
FIRST POSTED: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2017 03:29 PM EST | UPDATED: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2017 03:38 PM EST
A teenage vaping craze called “dripping” increases exposure to toxins and nicotine, according to new research.
Those partaking in the increasingly-popular phenomenon take apart e-cigarettes and pour the liquid found inside on the device’s heating coil to produce thick clouds of vapour.
A new study found exposing e-liquid directly to the hot coils significantly increases exposure to formaldehyde and acetone vapours.
“One of the concerns I have is when you are looking at the safety and risk of e-cigarettes, one really has to look at the risks of alternative uses also,” said Yale University psychiatry professor Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, the lead author of the study.
She recommended the devices be manufactured so they can’t be altered.
“What we are discovering with our work with youth is that kids are actually using these electronic products for other behaviours, not just for vaping e-liquids from cartridges or tanks,” Krishnan-Sarin said.
There are several concerning aspects, added Michael Perley, with the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco.
“Kids get a good dose of flavour and more nicotine. They could get nicotine poisoning, have cardiac problems and research shows certain flavours risk lung damage,” Perley said.
Dripping done properly isn’t dangerous, countered Dr. Gopal Bhatnagar, a cardiac surgeon and founder of the 180 Smoke Vape Stores.
“The researchers’ (findings) about the safety of dripping are unfounded and quite frankly poorly informed about the basic science and toxicology of vaping,” Bhatnagar said.
“Multiple papers have shown no production of chemicals in concentrations that would be harmful to human use.”
Dripper Matthew Krawchuk said the uproar is just much ado about vapour.
“It’s not for the beginner. People get weirded out because it creates bigger vapour,” said Krawchuk, who works in a vape store.
Krawchuk, who relied on vaping to quit smoking three years, added when he gets a big hit of nicotine by dripping, he can go hours without another haul.
“Dripping is what made me quit smoking. Without it I might not still be a father, husband and son,” said Krawchuk.
Health Canada — which hasn’t approved any vaping product — is looking into the scientific research to understand the health impacts, said spokesman Andre Gagnon.
“There is clear evidence that nicotine exposure during adolescence adversely affects cognitive function and development. Nicotine is a potent and powerful addictive substance, particularly for youth,” according to Health Canada.
“(Health Canada) will continue to invest in scientific research to better understand the health impacts of vaping.”
Krishnan-Sarin agreed that, “we know so little about the risks of vaping.”
In Ontario, it is illegal to sell a vaping device to anyone under 19.
“Dripping may involve greater exposer to non-nicotine toxicants,” said David Jensen with Ontario’s ministry of health.
“The ministry will continue to monitor the emerging research on e-cigarettes as well as examine the progression of dripping and the potential dangers.”
The Toronto District School Board and Toronto Public Health have no local information on dripping.
Vape law coming
Smoke signals above Ottawa are forecasting that e-cigarette regulations will soon come down the pipe.
Bill S-5. which recently had a second reading in the Senate, is designed to regulate vape products with an eye to protecting youth while acknowledging the potential e-cigarettes may have in helping people quit conventional smoking habits.
Currently, Health Canada hasn’t given approval to any vaping product and there is scarce scientific research pointing to harms or benefits.
The vaping market has been referred to as the wild west because of the lack of rules.
“The evidence on vaping is not conclusive, that’s why the government is proposing this flexible regime that can be adjusted as the science on vaping develops,” said Sen. Chantal Petitclerc.
The law would impose marketing restrictions and prohibit flavours such as bubble gum, soft drinks or cannabis.
Lesley James, manager of health policy for the Heart and Stroke Foundation believes there are gaps in the proposed legislation.
“We need more promotional restrictions. We must protect youth,” James insisted.
There is no time table for when Bill S-5 will become law.