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E-cigarettes: Dangerous, Available & Addicting

Parents may try electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes) to help them quit smoking. Teens may try them because they think they're safer than regular cigarettes. However, cancer-causing chemicals, including nicotine, have been found in e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are falsely advertised as a way to help smokers quit, but this has not been proven and is not recommended by the nation's leading health organizations. E-cigarettes are sold in many colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and bubble gum. The devices have a battery, vaporizer, and cartridge that make an aerosol mist that is inhaled. Smoking e-cigarettes is known as "vaping."

E-cigarette usage has doubled among middle and high school students. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey data from 2014 show that e-cigarettes are the most frequently used tobacco product, more so than combustible cigarettes.

E-cigarettes do not have to follow the same rules as other tobacco products. This means that the amount of nicotine and other harmful ingredients in each cartridge is not always the same across brands, and can even differ from what is listed on the product's label.

It's easy for kids to buy e-cigarettes: no national law about purchasing e-cigarettes exists, which means that in some states, kids of any age are able to purchase e-cigarettes in stores, mall kiosks, conveniences stores, or online.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges parents to store the e-cigarettes and refill solutions in child-resistant packaging and out of the reach of children. Most cartridges contain nicotine, an addictive chemical, and just a half teaspoon full of e-cigarette liquid that contains nicotine can be fatal for a child.

Parents should discuss e-cigarette use with their children just as they would talk to them about sex, alcohol, or drug use.

Parents who are trying to quit smoking should not use e-cigarettes. Call the state quitline or speak to a doctor for help quitting. Pediatricians can be a helpful quit resource as well- they want to keep families healthy!

Additional Information:


Trisha Korioth
Last Updated
Adapted from AAP News (Copyright © 2013 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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