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What is ‘dripping?’ Scientists warn of dangerous e-cigarette hack teens are trying

Teenagers using less tobacco, but more e-cigarettes
Teenagers are using less tobacco but a lot more kids are turning to using e-cigarettes and vaping. As Global’s Shelley Steeves reports, that’s creating concern among some health care professionals.

E-cigarettes are gaining popularity among teens and in a new study, doctors warn that up to 25 per cent are experimenting with a dangerous method of vaping called “dripping.”

With traditional e-cigarettes, e-liquid in a cartridge is heated up electronically, but with “dripping” users pull apart the device and pour drops of e-liquid directly onto the coil and quickly inhale.

It’s supposed to make thicker clouds of vapour, give users a stronger throat hit and make flavours taste better, according to the new Yale University study.

The trouble is teens are getting a stronger hit of nicotine, too.

READ MORE: Health Canada slow to regulate e-cigarettes

“Although there is no evidence on the prevalence rates or toxicity of this behaviour among adults or youth, [researchers] have shown that dripping e-liquids directly onto the e-cigarette atomizers could expose users to high temperatures and toxic chemicals such as aldehydes,” the study warned.
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“Moreover, [researchers] have shown that exposure of e-liquids to high temperatures results in significant increases in the levels of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acetone in the vapours,” it said.

Dr. Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, the study’s lead author, said guidance on how to drip is readily available online.

“This is one of the reasons why teens seem to like these devices. They like that they can do these novel things with them,” she told CBS News.

READ MORE: Ontario delays ban on electronic cigarettes and vaping

For her research, Krishnan-Sarin had 7,045 students from eight Connecticut high schools answer an anonymous survey on tobacco use. The teens were asked if they’d ever tried e-cigarettes and dripping, and what their reasons were for the usage.

Turns out, 1,100 students tried e-cigarettes and one of four e-cigarette users tried dripping.

Sixty-four per cent of the teens admitted they tried dripping to get thicker clouds of vapour so they could pull off smoke tricks. Forty per cent said they dripped to get a better flavour and 22 per cent tried it out of sheer curiosity.

Another 28 per cent said it gave them a “throat hit.”

READ MORE:E-cigarettes more popular among Ontario students than regular cigarettes: CAMH

E-cigarettes are often touted as safer alternatives to cigarettes but they’ve also been tied to a spike in poisonings.

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The culprit, according to the CDC, is the liquid nicotine in the e-cigarettes. Sometimes, the liquid is contained in the device that’s disposable or rechargeable. In other instances, the cartridge is opened and refilled.

If it isn’t done properly, or gets into the wrong hands, the liquid could cause skin or eye irritation, nausea or vomiting.

In some warnings, reports have even suggested that e-cigarettes have exploded.

Read the full study published in the journal Pediatrics.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca