We’ve seen some useless studies come down, but what are some useful studies that scientists could do to inform the public better about vaping?
Fine details on nicotine absorption
This will likely take a series of studies to gather enough data over various levels of vaping, but the gist is how do various vape parameters alter nicotine absorption rates?
Examples of the parameters involved include wattage/vapor density, technique of inhale/exhale (e.g., steal vaping versus cloud chasing versus “regular” vaping), and length of puffing session.
Unknown parameters might include modifications by ambient temperature, food, drink, circadian rhythm/oral mucus membrane’s biocycle, etc.
Also, how much does the same vaping regimen vary nicotine absorption between individuals? Are some subjects naturally more efficient at vapor-nicotine absorption than others?
Just-noticable Difference (JND) of nicotine levels
If a vaper uses a 12mg concentration, can they tell if they try an 11mg or 13mg? Does the JND vary with vapor density or other parameters above (it likely does with some)?
Understanding the JND may help with vapers that wish to lower or discontinue their vapor use. If they can step down at the right rate, it may improve their success.
It may also help manufacturers decide how to optimize their products. E.g., if an atomizer has a “hot start” feature that can increase vapor density for the first vapes of the day, it may help smokers that are reliant on that first cigarette but otherwise vape. If they can tell a smoker something like, “studies have shown that this increase in vapor density is equal to increasing the nicotine solution by
x%,” it could help the vaper make a more informed choice about how to use the product to overcome their “first cigarette” issue.
It could also be used to innovate a dual-tank design where one tank is nicotine-free. If the user receives nicotine vapor for the first several puffs of a session, and the device then switches to the virgin liquid, is the session still satisfying?
Innovations in detecting nicotine absorption levels
Is there an easy-to-use proxy measure for measuring blood serum levels of nicotine? For example, can heart rate or blood pressure measures be sufficiently correlated to get a robust measure without blood draw? Such a finding could significantly improve the variety of studies done, as they would be simpler to design and conduct.
Investigations of dehydration
How much of an issue is dehydration? Can it be alleviated through using higher-density vapor with higher nicotine levels? Lower-density with higher levels? At this time the issues of dehydration appear to be anecdotal with no formal investigations. Are some individuals more vulnerable to the effect? Is it even a real effect (i.e., does vaping actually lower body hydration)?
These issues may not seem as profound as detecting formaldehyde, but each of them could positively help both public health and the vaping marketplace improve. For example, the FDA might require dehydration warnings on vaping products if the concern is great enough. But lacking evidence, the FDA apparently ignores that potential hazard entirely in their proposed rules.
Proper hydration is a real issue not just in daily health, but long-term avoidance of organ stone formation among other problems. It deserves to be given at least a cursory study if vaping is to be regulated.