The Newest Vaping Craze: Caffeine?

We should have seen this coming.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Nikita Starichenko

Tired of getting your morning energy boost from sipping that same old cup of coffee? How would you like to inhale your caffeine instead?

Well, now you can. Caffeine vaporizers deliver that jolt straight to your lungs. The progeny of the energy drink craze on the one hand and the vaping phenomenon on the other, caffeine vaporizers are the newest vaping craze.

You don't actually vaporize coffee. Instead of delivering caffeine via coffee beans, caffeine vaping relies on caffeine from the Amazonian guarana plant, along with taurine (an energy drink supplement) and ginseng.

"Red Bull for the lungs," is how the New York Times described the experience. The Times' intrepid scribe reported that after five tokes, his fingers tingled, and that with ten tokes, he caught a buzz. But it was a strange one: "Ifelt a bit as if one had been freebasing a Jolly Rancher Cherry Stix," he wrote.

A typical cup of coffee contains between 95 and 200 milligrams of caffeine. The typical caffeine vaping serving is much less than that, at between 20 and 40 milligrams, according Eagle Energy Vapor, a Montana-based manufacturer of such products. Each caffeinated puff contains about 2 milligrams, so you would have to hit it between 50 and 100 times to get the equivalent of a good coffee buzz going.

As with other forms of vaping, there are unanswered questions about consequences. Since caffeine vaporizers are considered a dietary supplement, the FDA has not reviewed products like the Eagle to assess their safety.

If consumed in excess, caffeine via any means of ingestion can cause jitteriness, a queasy stomach, or a rapid heartbeat—just ask twitching, brooding, satirical comic book hero Too Much Coffee Man, he of the bulging eyes and facial rictus. And, as with other drugs, inhaling caffeine gets it into your system more quickly than drinking it.

If people do too much caffeine too fast, they risk spikes in blood pressure and possible heart problems, New York University cardiologist Nieca Goldberg told the Business Insider. She also worries that caffeine vapers will up their consumption over time.

"This isn't a medication, its safety has not been reviewed by the FDA, and they should [exercise] caution," she counseled. And "maybe people should focus on a better night's sleep."

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Phillip Smith has been a drug policy journalist for the past two decades. Smith is currently a senior writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute