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The Evolution and Impact of Electronic Cigarettes

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2012
2 pages
This article describes research based on the NIJ grantee report "Chasing the Electronic Cigarette Dragon: Characterizing the Evolution and Impact of Design and Content" (NCJ 252921) by Michelle Peace and funded by NIJ award 2016-DN-BX-0150 awarded to Virginia Commonwealth University.

Electronic cigarettes, first introduced in the U.S. market in 2006, have evolved from nicotine delivery systems to sophisticated, customizable devices that can deliver a range of illicit drugs. New generations of e-cigarettes are increasingly being used to deliver drugs such as THC (the intoxicating compound in marijuana), methamphetamine, fentanyl, and synthetic cannabinoids. This article details how NIJ-supported researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) have identified how these devices continue to evolve, how the newest models impact drug delivery, and how illicit e-cigarette pharmaceutical products are being developed and distributed. The study, led by VCU forensic toxicologist Michelle Peace, had three objectives: characterize the new models of e-cigarettes and how they are customized; characterize a variety of commercially available e-liquids for refilling e-cigarettes, including some advertised as containing drugs other than nicotine; and develop a model for characterizing the particle-size distribution in aerosols. The researchers determined fourth-generation e-cigarettes are effective drug delivery systems and now can "facilitate the aerosolization of drugs from products that are not liquid."