Vaporizer pens are becoming the new way for drug users to get high, but do it discreetly; many times right under the noses of law enforcement, parents, and other authority figures. From big cities like New York to small towns across the country, vape pens are popping up more frequently in drug busts.

Vape pens, also known as E-cigarettes, have been around for more than a decade, but have just recently experienced a boom in popularity, largely through marketing to cigarette smokers as a safer alternative.

A vape pen produces an inhalable vapor with a small heated inner coil that turns oil concentrates into vapor. Water-soluble synthetics are easy to convert into a liquid concentrate that can go into the device cartridges just like nicotine and other legal substances. It is nearly impossible to identify what is in someone’s vape. It could be nicotine, fruit-flavored nicotine-free “e-liquid”, marijuana concentrate, or other synthetic drugs.

Because these liquids can be infused with other chemicals giving it fruity aromas or no aroma at all, it is easy to conceal what is being vaped.

The only way to identify the substance is to have it tested in a forensic laboratory, creating challenges for law enforcement agencies across the country.

With “vape shops” opening up across the country at an ever-increasing rate, it is only becoming easier to acquire the necessary materials to concoct vape liquids containing illegal substances.

A growing trend that you can see all over social media outlets like Instagram is young people posting pictures bragging and snickering about vaping illegal drugs in public places, sometimes right in front of police officers.

According to the DEA, there are no federal age restrictions on e-cigarettes, although many states and cities have passed their own laws banning the sale to minors.

There is no doubt that these devices can play a role in helping people to get off of smoking cigarettes, but the growing trend of them being abused for other purposes is alarming.