(NewsNation Now) — A few years ago the tobacco companies sold the world on e-cigarettes’ ability to help people quit smoking. Now, doctors are developing a cocaine e-cigarette to help people do the same for stimulant addictions.
Dr. Fabian Steinmetz, one of the scientists who invented the device, said alternative solutions are necessary because “the war on drugs has not worked.”
“It’s quite easy to regulate cannabis. But it’s more difficult how to deal with drugs like crack cocaine or heroin,” Steinmetz said on “On Balance with Leland Vittert.”
For research, he looked at how several European countries handle drugs and the laws surrounding them. He noted some cities even give heroin to those already struggling with addiction.
“We actually thought about how can we do something similar for crack cocaine — which has a very short duration, and then we came up with this type of e-cigarette,” he said.
Steinmetz believes part of the problem with U.S. drug laws stems from prohibition and often results in people trying more dangerous drugs.
“If [people] don’t get their pills, they go to the black market … and then they poison themselves with illegal fentanyl formulations,” he said.
Some U.S. cities have turned to safe sites for people to use narcotics to prevent overdoses.
The first officially authorized safe havens for people to use heroin and other narcotics have been cleared to open in New York City.
An estimated 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously reported there were about 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020.