A Yale University study found that one in four high schoolers who use electronic cigarettes have tried inhaling vapors which are produced by "dripping" e-liquids directly onto heating coils. So, instead of inhaling from the e-cigarette mouthpiece, they're taking "hits" directly on the coils or the bridge of an atomizer
. This method means kids are possibly increasing their exposure to toxins and nicotine, the study found.
So, what's the draw? Reportedly, "cloud-chasers" enjoy the thicker puffs of vapor that are produced via dripping. Additionally, study participants said it provided a stronger hit to the back of the throat as well as a "better taste." (AUGH.)
Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, professor of psychiatry at Yale and first author of the study, explained that these alternative ways to "vape" are disturbing.
"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," she wrote to CafeMom. "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."
Because this is a relatively new trend, there isn't enough research to truly know what the long-term health implications might be.
"Everybody assumes vaping is a safer way (than cigarettes) of administering nicotine, but we know so little about the risks of vaping," noted Krishnan-Sarin.
Mika Hiramatsu, MD, a pediatrician at Castro Valley Pediatrics
in Hayward, California, agreed and expressed her own fears over the growing habit.
"We do know that unfortunately vaping has shown itself to be a 'gateway' to regular cigarettes, and that while kids have been smoking tobacco less, the incidence of vaping is increasing," she told CafeMom. "As pediatricians we are very concerned about this new hazard to children's health."
Existing research has found that harmful chemicals
, including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acrolein, are present in the vapors, and heating the liquid at a higher temperature and inhaling it directly (rather than from a cartridge or tank) possibly increases teens' exposure to these toxins.
Krishnan-Sarin concluded that further studies are needed to assess possible health risks of e-cigarettes and of alternative uses such as dripping.
We do know that some common side effects of vaping
include dry skin, dry mouth, a rash or burning sensation on your face, puffy or dry eyes, and even a bloody nose. So we can only imagine that intensifying the experience would lead to more serious problems.
It's best to talk to kids about the dangers of vaping and dripping -- preferably before they find themselves offered the chance to try either or both. And, remember, it's always best to lead by example, so if you're a parent who vapes, it could be time to kick that habit to the curb.
Need help quitting? Contact the American Lung Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA to learn more about lung health, and for help quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.