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QJM. 2018 Jan 1;111(1):9-14. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcx178.

A cloud on the horizon-a survey into the use of electronic vaping devices for recreational drug and new psychoactive substance (NPS) administration.

Author information

Emergency Department, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7EH, UK.
Clinical Toxicology, 3rd Floor, Block C, South Wing, St. Thomas' Hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7EH, UK.
Division of Health and Social Care Research, King's College London, Great Maze Pond, London SE1 9RT, UK.



There is limited published scientific data on vaping recreational drugs other than cannabis. A recent review suggested that 15% of people vaping cannabis have also vaped a synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist (SCRA) and identified over 300 Internet reports of e-liquid manufacture of recreational drugs and/or new psychoactive substances (NPS).


To determine the prevalence of use of electronic vaping devices for recreational drug and NPS delivery in the UK.


A voluntary online survey using a convenience sample of UK adult participants (aged 16 years old and over) identified by a market research company.


Data was collected regarding demographics, smoking history, electronic vaping device history and recreational drug/NPS use and route of administration.


There were 2501 respondents. The mean (±SD) age was 46.2 ± 16.8 years old. The commonest lifetime recreational drug used was Cannabis (818, 32.7%). The majority of respondents had smoked (1545, 61.8%) with 731 (29.2%) being current smokers. The most commonly used SCRA product was 'Spice Gold' (173, 6.9%) and SCRA compound was ADB-CHMICA (48, 1.9%). 861 (34.4%) had used an electronic vaping device; 340 (13.6%) having used them for recreational drug administration; 236 (9.4%) reporting current use. The commonest lifetime recreational drug to be vaped was cannabis (155, 65.7%), with electronic cigarettes (230, 48.2%) being the commonest reported route of SCRA compound administration.


9.4% of respondents currently use electronic vaping devices for recreational drug administration with 6.2% reporting lifetime cannabis vaping use. Further larger scale studies are required to help inform the appropriate treatment and primary prevention strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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