The latest hack to get media attention has nothing to do with computers: A new study has found that teens aren't just vaping, but are hacking their e-cigarettes so they can apply liquid nicotine right on the heated coils and breathe in the resulting thick clouds. Researchers at Yale University surveyed more than 7,000 teens at eight Connecticut high schools and found that among the 1,080 who report vaping with e-cigarettes, 26% admitted to having tried so-called "dripping" for reasons that include "a stronger throat hit" or "made flavors taste better." Reporting in the journal Pediatrics, researchers call for an investigation into the "toxicity" of dripping and its effects on youth. A press release suggests the practice could cause increased exposure to chemicals like formaldehyde.
The harsher dripping isn't exactly new, and it even has its own metaphor. "Compared to the standard e-cigs you can get, it’s like, you can go buy a Prius or you can go buy a Corvette," one vaping blogger tells the New York Times. He says manufacturers have taken note, and some are creating devices that have more accessible coils, ostensibly to cater to this crowd. But for the bigger flavor bang, scientists worry that people inhaling the vapors may be exposing themselves to higher concentrations of carcinogens given the liquid is subjected to elevated temperatures than through vaping. The study didn't investigate how often teens who engage in dripping do so. (Among teens, e-cigarettes appear to be a gateway to real cigarettes.)