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E-cigarettes may open addiction to marijuana, cocaine


New York, Sep 4 :

Assumed by many as a safe alternative to cigarette smoking, electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes as they are popularly called may, in fact, promote use and addiction to illicit drugs, says a study.

e-cigarette1E-cigarettes may function as a “gateway drug” – a drug that lowers the threshold for addiction to other substances such as marijuana and cocaine, the findings showed.

“While e-cigarettes do eliminate some of the health effects associated with combustible tobacco, they are pure nicotine-delivery devices,” said co-author Denise Kandel, professor from the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in the US.

“Nicotine clearly acts as a gateway drug on the brain and this effect is likely to occur whether the exposure comes from smoking cigarettes, passive tobacco smoke or e-cigarettes,” said co-author Eric Kandel, who is also a professor at CUMC.

E-cigarettes have been touted as a tool to curtail the use of conventional cigarettes and reduce the harmful health effects of combustible tobacco.

But in the light of the skyrocketing popularity of e-cigarettes, particularly among adolescents and young adults, the researchers said that more effective prevention programmes need to be developed for all products that contain nicotine.

“Our findings provided a biologic basis for the sequence of drug use observed in people,” Eric Kandel noted.

“One drug alters the brain’s circuitry in a way that enhances the effects of a subsequent drug,” he added.

The researchers reviewed Denise Kandel’s earlier work on the gateway hypothesis and on the role of nicotine as a gateway drug, reported in a paper published in the journal Science in l975.

The current study appeared online in the New England Journal of Medicine.



  1. Is this like how Marijuana is a gateway drug? Admittedly, nicotine is more of a gateway drug than marijuana, but I sincerely doubt e-cigs are a gateway drug any more than cigarettes are. What strikes me as odd is that somehow media sites always have the conclusions but never cite them, so it is difficult or near impossible to find the source material to draw our own conclusions. It’s odd you wouldn’t at least include an unedited excerpt.

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