Vapers are using their e-cigarettes to experiment with illegal drugs, a report has claimed.

Vaping has become popular with smokers who want a safer alternative to regular cigarettes. But some users are using the dark web to buy e-liquids which contain drugs including cannabis, cocaine, morphine, ecstasy and temazepam.

Dr Michelle Peace, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the United States, is now carrying out research into substance misuse through vaping. The study will be used to inform forensic scientists, medical examiners and the police as well as raise awareness among the general public.

Dr Peace told New Scientist: “The users believe they are experiencing better drug delivery. Part of our work has been to understand why they think that is the case.”

The research team have analysed a wide range of e-liquids from those containing legal ingredients like nicotine and caffeine to those with illegal drugs. And they tested each one to find out what ingredients they actually contained and whether they were labelled correctly.

Inhaling illegal substances poses dangerous health risk

The scientists also used a machine to inhale each e-liquid to see how effective each drug was when vaporised. The findings of their research have not yet been published but Dr Peace has raised concerns about the potential health risks of this type of vaping.

She said: “Vaping e-liquids that contain drugs could make already dangerous drugs even more dangerous.”

There are also concerns that vaping illegal drugs could cause problems with the user’s lungs.

However drugs are consumed, the substances will show up in a drug test. AlphaBiolabs offers hair drug testing, which looks for the metabolites of illegal substances which have become embedded in the hair shaft.

This form of testing is extremely accurate and can be used to look at substance misuse over a period of months, depending on the length of the hair sample sent in for testing.