The e-cigarette is a modern invention and an alternative to tobacco cigarettes. They were designed to allow people to smoke and to get nicotine into the bloodstream without inhaling all of the toxins found in tobacco. E-cigarettes may be helping people to quit smoking, and because they do not produce actual smoke, they may also allow people to get their nicotine without affecting the people around them.
On the surface, it seems that e-cigarettes are a great invention that can help people. Unfortunately, there are downsides to these fake cigarettes, not least of which is the fact that they can be used to smoke illegal drugs, like marijuana. Because of the way they work, someone can smoke pot using an e-cigarette without being detected.
The E-Cigarette Revolution
An e-cigarette is different from a traditional cigarette in that it does not use tobacco. Instead, it uses batteries and a liquid solution of nicotine. The battery heats and vaporizes the solution so that the user inhales and exhales vapors, rather than smoke. Because nicotine is the only ingredient, the user is also not inhaling all of the additives in tobacco that are so harmful, such as tar, acetone and arsenic.
Although nicotine is still a drug, and one that is harmful and addictive, smoking an e-cigarette is much less dangerous than smoking tobacco cigarettes. It is also less harmful to others around the smoker because there is no secondhand smoke. Without the offensive fumes, it may be possible for people to smoke using e-cigarettes in areas that are normally restricted to smokers.
For the above reasons, e-cigarettes are set to become big sellers in the U.S. and elsewhere. Some experts are even predicting that they will start to outsell real cigarettes within a decade. E-cigarettes are already big business in Europe. The European Parliament recently rejected a proposal to regulate them as medical devices, which would have meant tight restrictions on sales.
E-Cigarettes Being Used To Smoke Marijuana
Although e-cigarettes may have been created as healthier, alternative delivery devices for nicotine and to help smokers kick the habit, clever drug users have already crafted them for different uses. The cartridge of liquid nicotine solution that goes into an e-cigarette can easily be replaced by any liquid. Any substance can be vaporized and inhaled using one of these devices.
Most commonly, abusers are using a cartridge with a liquid solution of THC, the main psychoactive substance found in marijuana. With liquid THC in an e-cigarette, a person can get high and yet appear to be legally inhaling legal, nicotine vapors. The same property of e-cigarettes that allows users to smoke without offending those around them, allows for covert use of illicit drugs. The vapors produced by the e-cigarette are odorless. A person can get high without arousing suspicions.
Teens Smoking Marijuana With No Recognizable Odor
While an adult covertly smoking pot is a concern, a bigger one is the use of marijuana by teenagers. As the presence of e-cigarettes proliferates, teens are finding that they make an excellent vehicle for smoking pot. Smoking marijuana produces a characteristic odor that clings to clothes, hair and fingers. With e-cigarettes, a teen can inhale liquid THC, get high, and never give off the usual signs. Parents who are concerned that their teens may be using marijuana will have to be more vigilant and look for other signs of intoxication.
E-Cigarettes Targeting Young People?
Another concern regarding teens and e-cigarettes is that these new devices may be targeting young people. E-cigarettes can be sold with different types of nicotine cartridges with flavors like strawberry, peach and grape. They are also sold online, which makes it easier for kids to get a hold of them. If kids start using these devices at a young age, they may be more inclined to try other substances. In other words, e-cigarettes may become the new gateway drug. The problem has already begun, as statistics indicate that the number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes is rising.
It seems that e-cigarettes have a place in our modern world. They allow adults to use a legal substance in a way that is less harmful than cigarettes. They also help those who want to quit the habit of smoking. On the other hand, e-cigarettes pose a big problem. Until we can figure out how regulate them fairly, or how to detect illegal drugs being used in e-cigarettes, parents and other adults should be aware of the possibility that they are being abused by teens.