The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) has recently unleashed a horde of researchers cum investigators to look into the vaping habits of e-cigarette users. This includes research on social networks such as Facebook and other online mediums where the vaping community shares their experiences. Flush with funding of $273 million, at least 14 centers or organizations will be doing much of the research work. One of these is Georgia State University. (GSU.edu)
The main objective of these is to establish the scientific basis for future regulation and possible prohibition of the devices.
What could they be looking at?
1. Online marketing and promotion
Foremost among the concerns of legislators, parents and community advocates is the widespread adoption of these e-cigarettes by children and minors. The phenomenon of vaping has gone viral and the law has been found wanting for lack of scientific basis. These studies will seek to address these concerns.
In Georgia State University, research efforts into marketing nicotine based products will be headed by the dean of the School of Public Health, Michael Eriksen.
“We’re looking at what kind of information people need for improved decision-making. But we’ve got to be sure what improved means,” Eriksen says. “Do e-cigarettes get people to quit smoking or are they just a substitute for smoking?” (Georgia State University “When the Smoke Clears”)
2. YouTube videos and modifications
“Mods” or vaping accessory modifications make the experience of inhaling nicotine highly customized. As such, the possible side effects of these need to be determined. One of the concerns is that some modifications may cause some formaldehyde or other carcinogenic properties to vaporize. (Reuters)
The Virginia Commonwealth University is also the recipient of this research grant and is spearheaded by Dr. Thomas Eissenberg an expert in the fields of Biopsychology, Health Psychology and also the Director of Clinical Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory. (VCU)
3. Habits and Usage
Another focal point of research will be the actual behavior of e-cigarette users. They will be monitoring how frequent they smoke these products, how they use it and most likely other accompanying behavior pertaining to its usage.
Privacy vs. Public Health
There might be some concerns about privacy and the impact of conducting studies online. But if it is an issue concerning public health, safety and policy, the latter would prevail. Scientific research concerning e-cigarette usage is playing a game of catch up with regulation and marketing. The one thing that’s important is we get to see the scientific truth beneath all the haze.
Any parent, e-cigarette user, smoker, teenager or adult has a stake in this so if there’s anything to be discovered by researchers and it is corroborated with facts, numbers and figures, then it should serve us in the long run.
Creative Commons Image via Flickr