Fancy inhaling your morning coffee instead of drinking it? Um yeah. Us neither.
Your alarm has been going off for 45 minutes, and you reluctantly rub the sleep from your eyes – and rub yesterday’s mascara all over your face in the process. You’re tired, hungover, and desperately need to wake up. Using the walls for support, you stumble into the kitchen. Next to the kettle is a small inhaler, which you lift to your lips before breathing in.
In all honesty, whether you’re a full- time smoker, a part-time smoker, a once-a-year-at-a-wedding-on-a-full-moon smoker or a never-ever-ever-shall-a-cancer-stick-pass-my-lips non-smoker, the above scenario sounds a bit unlikely. But as caffeine vaping hits the high street, trend analysts reckon it’s the new big thing in energy boosting. Hell, even the New York Times describes it as ‘Red Bull for the lungs’.
‘Coffee is one thing, then you have your five-Hour Energy drinks,’ says Dr. Donald Hensrud, the director of the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program. ‘This is next in line on the spectrum of people who want that acute buzz.’
The vaporisers work in exactly the same way as e-cigarettes; using heat to convert a combination of chemicals into vapour, which you then inhale through your mouth. But while caffeine vaporisers only release approximately two miligrams of caffeine per inhalation (considerably less than your standard americano), and don’t contain any nicotine, they do contain guarana, taurine and ginseng – and experts still aren’t sure whether they’re safe.
‘The way our bodies handle caffeine that is inhaled can be very different from when caffeine is in our food or drink,’ says Mary M. Sweeney from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. ‘Even if an inhaled product delivers the same dose of caffeine as a cup of coffee, it may have different subjective effects for people because the time-course might be different.’
It’s not the first time companies have tried to jump on the e-cig shaped bandwagon: in 2014, Vita-Cig released a range of scientifically questionable vaporisers promising to help you inhale your daily vitamins. Similarly, Vitamin Smoke claims to include Echinacea, and Anasazi Vapors promises a ‘herbal blend’. But as reports claim that the brands in question have yet to test their products’ efficacy, (and with big cartoon question marks still dangling over the long term effects of e-cigarettes in general), something tells us we’d really rather have a cup of tea.