E-cigarettes may function as a gateway to marijuana and cocaine addiction, just like conventional cigarettes, scientists say.

Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) found that e-cigarettes may function as a “gateway drug” – a drug that lowers the threshold for addiction to other substances, such as marijuana and cocaine.

“While e-cigarettes do eliminate some of the health effects associated with combustible tobacco, they are pure nicotine-delivery devices,” said co-author Denise B Kandel, professor of sociomedical sciences (in psychiatry), Department of Psychiatry and Mailman School of Public Health, at CUMC.

In the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers Denise and Eric Kandel reviewed her earlier work on the gateway hypothesis and on the role of nicotine as a gateway drug, reported in a Science paper in l975.

They also reviewed subsequent studies in which they tested the gateway hypothesis experimentally in a mouse model.