Plus: The harm that legalized marijuana has done to young children, and the expansion of illegal drug markets during COVID
By William Wagner
E-cigarettes have been a source of controversy and even litigation, especially because many young people have been exposed to nicotine through them. But researchers from Queen Mary University of London think they’ve identified an upside. Their recent clinical trial indicates that e-cigarettes might be effective in helping people reduce their smoking.
In smokers unable to quit using conventional methods, e-cigarettes were more effective than nicotine replacement therapy in facilitating validated long-term smoking reduction and smoking cessation.”—study in “Addiction”
We also look at a study showing the dangers that marijuana legalization has presented to young children, and a report on how illegal drug markets adapted and thrived despite the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
E-cigarettes and Smoking Reduction
E-cigarettes have potential as a harm reduction approach for tobacco use, say researchers from Queen Mary University of London. In a clinical trial, 135 smokers were divided into two groups: those who would use traditional nicotine replacement treatments (NRTs) such as nicotine patches and nicotine gum, and those who would be equipped with e-cigarettes. After six months, 27% of the participants in the e-cigarette group had cut their smoking at least in half, compared with 6% from the NRT group.
The researchers say their findings suggest a viable option for people who are trying to stop smoking. “In smokers unable to quit using conventional methods, e-cigarettes were more effective than nicotine replacement therapy in facilitating validated long-term smoking reduction and smoking cessation, when limited other support was provided,” they write in Addiction.
From Clinical Toxicology:
Weed Legalization Inadvertently Harms Children
In places where recreational use of marijuana is legal, the drug is sold as an edible in all sorts of enticing forms—almost like it’s candy. Thus, the results of a study out of Canada, where recreational marijuana has been legal since October 2018, shouldn’t be surprising. Researchers at the Toronto-based Hospital for Sick Children report that intensive care admissions for cannabis poisoning among children 12 and under have increased threefold since the drug was legalized. Edibles, they say, are the main source of cannabis poisoning, with potentially catastrophic results. As the researchers write in Clinical Toxicology, “While uncommon in adults, severe cannabis intoxication has been well described in infants and children, with manifestations including behavioural changes, seizures, ataxia, respiratory depression, apnea, and coma.”
From the European Drug Report 2021: Trends and Developments:
Drug Markets Expanded During the Pandemic
According to the European Drug Report 2021: Trends and Developments, published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), illegal drug markets flourished during the COVID-19 pandemic. With social distancing measures put in place, the drug trade adapted and went online in a major way. The report states that drugs are more easily accessible in a greater range than ever before.
We need urgently to recognize that not only is a wider variety of people now personally experiencing drug problems, but these problems are impacting on our communities in a wider variety of ways.”—Alexis Goosdeel, EMCDDA
That spells bad news for the post-pandemic world. “We are witnessing a dynamic and adaptive drug market, resilient to COVID-19 restrictions,” Alexis Goosdeel, director of the EMCDDA, said in a news release. “We are also seeing patterns of drug use that are increasingly complex, as consumers are exposed to a wider range of highly potent natural and synthetic substances. We need urgently to recognize that not only is a wider variety of people now personally experiencing drug problems, but these problems are impacting on our communities in a wider variety of ways.”
Photo: Elsa Donald