E-Cigarettes May Promote Illicit Drug Use and Addiction

an E-cigarette is- ah, an almost pure nicotine delivery device. It’s a little bit of an exaggeration because it also has other
compounds to enable it to vaporize the the nicotine so it’s going to have the
same effect on the brain as what we found when we give nicotine to mice it’s
going to change your brain in such a way that is going to make it much more
receptive to the rewarding effect of other drugs and not only become more
addicted to tobacco to nicotine but more addictive drug– addicted to other drugs. what is interesting about this study is that it began a long time ago. Began in
1975 when Denise published a very important paper in science pointing out
that there are stages in how kids get involved with drugs and kids don’t begin
with cocaine and heroin they begin with drinking or smoking. She continued to
study this in different populations and then became interested in understanding
is this a correlational is this a causation. She began to realize and she wrote an
important editorial on this in JAMA in 2005 thereabouts in which she said,
“you know we need to explore this in animal models in order to get at this”
and she began to look around for a collaborator and she found one at home
and we began to collaborate together I’m fortunate to have several colleagues
including Amir Levine was very much interested in this problem and we began to develop animal models which Denise had studied in human populations. so we developed a molecular approach to human epidemiology. when an e-cigarettes try to
mimic a combustible cigarette without any of the negative effect that are
associated with combustion a regular combustible cigarettes includes a lot of
other compounds, thousands of compounds. An e-cigarette is much simpler so from that point of view I think it’s a much healthier type of device
than a combustible cigarette. But because it has it consists of nicotine
it has the effect on the brain in addition to the effects of the
cardiovascular system that a regular cigarette has. we see so clearly in mice
if you give nicotine before cocaine it dramatically enhances the effects of
cocaine if you have cocaine before nicotine doesn’t have this effect there’s no reason to believe that e-cigarettes would not
increase the likelihood of adolescents getting involved with even more
dangerous drugs. I think the main message is that nicotine not only affects the lungs the heart but it also has very strong effects on the brain and based on
the studies that we’ve done it it releases some constraints on genes
related to addiction and makes the individual much more susceptible to
become addicted to other substances

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