Anti Drip Vaping Propaganda Rages On
Another US-based scientific survey related to vaping is making the rounds this week, and once again an alarming lack of knowledge about the science of vaping has been put on display. *USA Today* and several other outlets are reporting on a "new, dangerous trend" – the use of rebuildable dripper atomizers, or dripping.
According to the survey, published by *Pediatrics*, as many as a fourth of teens who've vaped have tried dripping. Users say that better cloud production and better flavor are the primary motivators in using an RDA.
This, unfortunately, is where the accurate information ends. RDAs, seasoned vapers will recall, have been around for years. While they've fallen out of favor among most casual users as tank technology has improved, in the early 2010s RDAs were virtually the only means of running a suitable self-built coil, and tanks of the era were well-known for their muted flavor and spotty vapor delivery. So dripping is nothing new – in truth it's a once-common practice that's fallen out of favor with all but the most dedicated.
According to a CNN report, "dripping generates higher heating coil temperatures than conventional use of e-cigarettes -- and this is a safety concern." This is a bit of a half-truth. As temperature in an atomizer increases, more liquid is vaporized at once – this indeed would cause an increase in particulate matter uptake by the user. And there are certainly health concerns about some of the compounds found particularly in certain flavors, and their effect on the lungs when inhaled. But, given that an RDA could be built to vape just fine at 20 watts or less (this was more common than not in the era before "sub-ohm" vaping) and that many tanks these days advertise the capability of running with more than 100 watts of power, the heat concern isn't specifically tied to drippers – you can run any device hot or cool.
There are also concerns about certain carcinogens being released at high temperatures in an e-cigarette. The problem with these findings, though, is that the most-cited studies in the US today used a technique that involved not just vaporizing liquid but actually heating the coils to the point of burning both liquid and wick, causing smoke, not vapor, to form. Modern temperature control settings have promised to alleviate this "dry hit" condition, though even pro-vaping scientists recommend keeping the wattage turned down to a moderate level for those who have concerns about their vaping safety.
Further arguments include those that e-liquids touching the skin can be toxic (possibly, when using a high-mg/ml strength liquid and spilling a large quantity without immediately washing), that young users don't understand e-liquid may contain nicotine, and that vapor "tricks" (a hopped-up version of blowing smoke rings, a centuries-old practice) are unduly attracting teens to vape.
Again, some of these items may have some merit, and it's worth noting that the survey was published in a pediatric medicine journal. But while these last few may be applicable with youth, they shouldn't be part of the conversation for mature adults. We always have, and always will support strong regulation of the vaping industry that keeps any vaping product, whether it contains nicotine or doesn't, out of the hands of minors. But we're rightly concerned when misleadingly-assembled information maligns the whole industry and threatens the ability of millions of tobacco quitters to live cigarette-free lifestyles.