Keep Kids Away from E-Cigarettes

E-cigarettes and children are not a good match

The makers of electronic cigarettes want the public to believe that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes. These devices deliver nicotine by heating it and converting it to a water vapor that contains lower levels of toxins than regular cigarettes. But they could contain chemicals and carcinogens that are harmful to your health.

There even seems to be an effort to market e-cigarettes to children. Companies are adding flavoring that appeals to youngsters — "vivid vanilla," "cherry crush," chocolate, gummy bear and bubble gum. Packaging is also colorful and often looks like candy. To add to the risk, most e-cigarette containers lack warnings or child-proof packaging.

Marketing attempts to make e-cigarettes look cool and sexy or harmless. That doesn’t change the fact that "nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical no matter what form it takes — conventional cigarettes or some other tobacco product," said American Heart Association President Elliott Antman, M.D.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reports a large increase in calls to poison control centers across the United States involving exposures to both e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine. They went from 1,542 for the entire year of 2013 to 2,724 through just August 31, 2014.

The "e-liquids" that are the key ingredients in e-cigarettes are powerful neurotoxins. Even amounts as small as a teaspoon, either ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting and seizures. They may even be lethal in a small child. An investigation of secondhand vapor — what users of e-cigarettes exhale — shows it contains increased levels of chromium and nickel.

A survey of students in grades 6 through 12 found that by 2012, 1.78 million students in the U.S. had tried e-cigarettes. About 76 percent of e-cigarette users said they also smoked conventional cigarettes.

E-cigarettes and children are not a good match. While "vaping" seems less dangerous than smoking, the American Heart Association takes the position that e-cigarettes are dangerous because they:

  • target young people
  • can keep people hooked on nicotine
  • threaten to ‘re-normalize’ tobacco use

We have joined with 16 other health organizations in asking that e-cigarettes be federally regulated because they pose serious health risks.

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