E-cigarettes are all the rage among adults and teens, but high school students have come up with another use for the popular smoking mechanism: weed. A fifth of students who use vaporizing devices have tried to put marijuana in them, a study on Connecticut teenagers published in the journal Pediatrics Monday revealed.
In a survey of nearly 4,000 students at five high schools in spring 2014, 28 percent said they had tried e-cigarettes. Of those high school students who have used both weed and e-cigarettes, 27 percent said they have tried to “vape” it. Younger students and males were most likely to attempt vaporizing their marijuana.
Placing cannabis in the device makes pot-smoking harder to detect because the vapor takes away the signature smell. "Everybody knows that characteristic smell of marijuana, but this vapor is different. It’s possible that teenagers are using pot in a much less detectable way,” Morean, an assistant professor at Oberlin College, told USA Today. “It’s so much easier to conceal e-cigarette pot use.”
But there’s little research on smoking pot in a vape device. “There's so much more about this that's unknown than is known," senior author Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, told Health Day News.
“Vaping” has become popular in recent years as a “healthier” version of smoking because it doesn’t burn the carcinogens in the cartridges. However, a 2009 study by the Food and Drug Administration discovered e-cigarettes “contained detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could potentially be exposed.”
A different study, however, by Tobacco Control in 2013, showed dangerous elements in e-cigarettes happened at levels nine to 450 times lower than in traditional cigarette smoke.
E-cigarette use increased more than 200 percent from 2011 to 2013, a study by Nicotine and Tobacco Research said. “While some teens experiment, it's vital parents and guardians talk to children about not using any age-restricted products, including vapor products," Phil Daman, president of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association and attorney for Daman & Associates, told USA Today.
Since it was only Connecticut students who were surveyed, Morean said she hopes students in other states will be part of the research because it “is so new.”
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