cocaine and electronic cigarettes

E-Cigs. A Gateway Drug to Cocaine?

Goodness! The amount of nonsense and misinformation these days on electronic cigarettes are soaring. Apparently two renounced scientist claim that electronic cigarettes (more importantly the nicotine, but they focus on E-Cigs oddly enough) are a gateway drug for cocaine. Let me begin by saying that the scientists’ (Eric R. Kandel, M.D., and Denise B. Kandel, Ph.D. one of which actually won a Nobel prize by the way) study is an interesting read and I would advise anyone to have a quick glance or at least look at their conclusions. However, as interesting as their study was they took a huge leap jumping directly at the electronic cigarette industry and calling for increased regulation.

The study dives into the addicting nature of both nicotine and cocaine to see if for those who are addicted to nicotine would have a higher dependence on cocaine. The study was done on mice with two groups; one group given the nicotine prior to the cocaine and the other group not given any nicotine prior to cocaine. The conclusion showed that the mice that received the nicotine-laced water were more prone to becoming addicted to nicotine. Although these results are interesting, they are not practical in real life situations.

Cocaine although a very harmful drug is highly illegal substance and not readily available to purchase from local stores, one must purchase cocaine through illegal means. Also, the study does state that just by having nicotine in your system you are addicted to cocaine (that I am sure our lawmakers will attempt to skew); in fact, the study only shows the increased likelihood of addiction to cocaine if cocaine is present and available. So a person has to choose to try cocaine first and even if they do try it, addiction does not happen after the first try. Cocaine must be continually ingested for addiction to occur, which as we all already from tobacco usage, is nothing new.

At the end of the article, the authors dive into e-cigs. I can see why they did as electronic cigarettes are a source of nicotine, however, what they should have done in my opinion is grouped electronic cigarettes, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc. into one group to remain objective. By singling out electronic cigarettes, they seem biased (thus the title of my article) against e- cigarettes. The authors claim that with the recent rise of electronic cigarettes there needs to be a concern for this new “gateway” drug, and to increase regulation to avoid addiction of harder substances.

Now once again their study does seem to imply nicotine usage would make someone more prone to be addicted to harder substances such as cocaine. However, to regulate or even outright ban electronic cigarettes just because little Timmy (I am making this person up) may want to do some recreational cocaine sometime in his life is absurd. Instead, why don’t they increase regulation on cocaine, beef up the drug-fighting task force instead of regulating electronic cigarettes?

I have no doubt in my mind this article by Eric R. Kandel, M.D., and Denise B. Kandel, Ph.D. will be brought up in the ensuing arguments the coming years with lawmakers who want to regulate electronic cigarettes heavily. I can especially see this argument with heavily populated areas with known cocaine usage like Los Angeles and Las Vegas; the same areas that are pioneering the latest and greatest innovations in electronic cigarette technology. With the recent study on how the human breath has the same ‘toxins’ as electronic cigarettes, I thought our community could take a breather for once and find solidarity with a popular argumentative tool being shut down. But instead only a few days later this article get’s published, and I am just sitting here in disbelief.


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