Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $139,233)
As submitted by the applicant: Despite the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes, e-cigs), they have been identified as a significant hazard to public health as a delivery device for nicotine. The lack of regulations has made them easy to access, with the greatest concern being their accessibility to children and teenagers, which has shepherded in a nefarious use of e-cigs. The use of the electronic cigarette as an illicit drug delivery device is touted on websites, forums, blogs, and videos describing how best to use them for specific illicit drugs and the benefits of doing so. Modifications to the devices to increase dosage alone, or combined with increasing the volume of the puff, could easily lead to overdoses. Clearly, this presents a significant criminal justice concern in the United States. This research aims to characterize how electronic cigarettes have and continue to evolve, investigate how the modifications impact drug delivery, and investigate what illicit pharmaceutical products are developed and promulgated, and how they are successfully distributed. This research will also begin to develop a model to understand the relationship between drug chemistry, heat, power, and aerosolization that impacts drug bioavailability. This research will support the criminal justice community by educating law enforcement on what evidence to collect, educators and drug courts as to what programs to develop regarding substance abuse and rehabilitation, controlled substances analytical units on how to most efficiently evaluate evidence, and toxicologists on if and how vaping is fundamentally different from other drug delivery methods and know how to interpret analytical results. Together, the community needs to define and characterize drug usage trends, and this research poses an important, relevant, and critically timed study to address an identified threat.
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