November 6th, 2014
Recent news headlines related to electronic cigarettes feature a latest study that is published in New England Journal Medicine. The journal and the authors of this study claimed that ecig use could lead to cocaine use. CASAA or Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association disputed and said this ecig gateway to cocaine is merely junk science.
In truth, this study does not really prove such thing. Both the journal and the authors are merely trying to obtain political points from an unimportant technical study involving mice with no implications in the real world.
The results of the study show that rodents dosed with nicotine for a day reacted differently and biologically to cocaine the following day as compared to those mice that were not dosed. The results do not suggest that using nicotine will cause people to look for or to use cocaine.
Not Relevant in Real World
According to CASAA Scientific Director, Dr. Carl V. Phillips, the study only tells so little about the biology of humans and results show nothing relevant in the real world behavior of humans. The study found no evidence to support the ecig gateway to cocaine theory. There is also no reason to believe there is.
Molecular Basis for Nicotine as Gateway Drug
The study was conducted by researchers including Eric R. Kandel and also Denize B. Kandel. They looked the brain chemistry changes in mice brought about by the administered artificial drug doses under conditions that are also artificial.
If the study is even accurate, it provides no information on the gateway effects let alone electronic cigarettes in particular. It is quite interesting that the authors have added an unsupported discussion about ecigs to this standard technical paper.
Furthermore, the authors also had a press release taking even further misleading claims and implications that the study shows that ecigs will cause people to use and become addicted to illicit drugs.
Neuropsychopharmacology professor David Nutt at Imperial College in London said that the study is another example of a journal press office making its routine studies big news by distorting the data interpretation of results.
In the press release, the authors stated that ecigs might be gateway to real cigarettes and to illicit drugs. Thus, they concluded that all must be done to protect the young people from these dangers.
Yet, the study did not provide even a hint of evidence that there is such effect for the single drug that it analyzed. Ronald A. Ward, Jr., Esq of CASAA, who is a criminology expert, said that this is the worst excuse he has seen for the gateway argument.
CASAA President Julie Woessner remarked that this is a classic instance when someone who has political agenda tacks is/her opinion on technological research and then try to trick the press to report it in such a way. Ecigs as smoke cessation device is one of the very important breakthroughs of this modern era. Sadly, there are those who just want people to keep smoking tobacco rather than find satisfying and low risk alternative. They need not even find for a solution because it is already available. They choose to ignore the solution.
Philips also observed that the study authors are seemingly not aware that cocaine use has peaked long after the smoking rates have fallen; which is the opposite of what they predicted. The drug-seeking behavior in real world scenario is not similar to the mice neurobiology. Besides, it is quite obvious that the authors specifically mentioned and targeted ecigarettes; as if NRTs contain no nicotine that can drive people to illicit drug addiction, if their findings were indeed true and acceptable.