Is vaping caffeine safe?

YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- Many people start their day with a cup of coffee, or even diet coke, as a way to get that morning boost. But now some are inhaling caffeine instead of drinking it.

"Vaping is just something quick and simple," Spencer Levinger, said. "I don't have to walk around with a wad in my mouth, spitting in a bottle. I don't have to walk around smoking a cigarette, looking for a safe place to smoke, or a smoke free smoke zone. I can just look down, hit the vape, and go."

A former athlete, his vaping habit is a different kind of win.

"You grow up your entire life being told chewing is bad, smoking is bad," Levinger said. "So when you look at that and you're like, 'oh I'm already in the bad, what's the next step to get out? How can I get to the green?' so one little baby step."

The little orange box. It's a caffeine inhaler, called "Inhale Health." It contains 640 micro grams of caffeine.

"I saw it in Sheetz," Levinger said. "Just sitting there. I was like, 'well I vape so I might as well give this a little shot,' and I started doing the energy, and I was like, 'wow I can`t believe this actually works.' I honestly thought it was a scam at first."

Medical experts said not so fast.

"Vaping caffeine, you get a faster absorption so you're going to see the effects a lot more quickly," Michelle Higer, Emergency Physician and Medical Toxicologist at Wellspan Health, said. "But you're also not going to have the body filtering any of the chemicals that are in the cartridge."

Higer said her concerns are cardiac and heart rhythm issues. FOX 43 reached out to the makers of the Inhale Health caffeine inhaler, the product Spencer uses. The company is based out of Los Angeles.

"I don't really agree with her logic, because people pound 6 packs of red bull all the time," Daniel Wolf Shapiro, Founder and CEO of Inhale Health, said. "And since there's a delay with the digestive system, you actually aren't getting any feedback from your body until it's too late."

Shapiro said Inhale Health is about using inhalation for good.

"We contain zero nicotine, we contain zero propylene glycol," Shapiro said. "We're approaching the manufacturing process from inception thinking about wellness and thinking about the body. So it's not vaping. That would associate all sorts of irrelevant things with people. This is about using inhalation technology for good."

In fact, they don't even use the word "vape" on any of their products

"The entire vaping community is doing unsafe things," Shapiro said. "Any company that is building a product around a known toxin or carcinogen should look at themselves in the mirror and say, 'what am I doing with my life'?"

Back here closer to home, you'll have a tough time finding caffeine products at local vape shops. FOX 43 called more than a dozen shops, and none of them carry or sell it.

"I don't believe in it," Twitch Bracken, owner of S.S. Vape in Hanover, said. "That's probably the only reason why. I truly believe in every product we sell. Everything from our vape products, our nicotine and even our CBD, we believe in it. We believe it works. It helps people. I'm not going to stand behind something or sell something I can't stand behind."

Bracken helped start the business to get people to quit smoking, saying it's about harm reduction.

"Vaping caffeine - it's something I've never even done. Like we looked into it for a little bit, and that was where it ended for us. Now, I drink probably about a pot of coffee a day, so I'm a huge caffeine person. I need it or else I'm just no fun to be around. But vaping it, just doesn't appeal to me. We don't see any harm reduction in vaping caffeine vs. drinking a pot of coffee."

Another concern, when is enough, enough?

"If anything I think it's an increased risk of harm because if you're just inhaling caffeine," Brad Wolfe, Regional Manager at S.S. Vape, said. "Well where's the cut off point?"

The recommended dose on the box is ten breaths per day, which is 160 micro grams of caffeine.

"If you want a direct correlation to a cup of coffee, the data doesn't exist," Shapiro said. "There's no perfect correlation between micro grams inhaled and milligrams digested. Because you and your colleague are going to drink the same cup of coffee and you're going to have completely different absorption rates."

Levinger gives it a two thumbs up.

"For me if I drink an energy drink, I'm jittery, I'm bouncing around. I just can't focus," Levinger said. "Whereas this was kind of like, I had more of a charge in my step, I was just more peppy really."

Still, others aren't convinced.

"I think when people vape, they're going to be more likely to over-do it," Higer said. "Most people, when they're drinking caffeine, their stomach feels full, they'll start feel nauseous. I don't think you're going to get the same effects when you vape it."

"No, someone can't overdose on this," Shapiro said. "There are 16 milligrams in that entire inhaler, and you're delivering controlled subset micro doses. If you were to pound a bunch of red bulls you'd be consuming in aggregate a lot more of that, but how much is actually absorbed is different. But we're dealing with such a controlled micro dose there's no risk of that."

You won't find Inhale Health or any caffeine-related vaping products at many vape shops locally, but it is being sold in some gas stations locally.

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