E-cigarettes are exploding in popularity, and are being used by both adolescents and adults. They are not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking.
E-cigarettes, personal vaporizers, vape pens, e-cigars, pod systems, e-hookah, or vaping devices, are products that produce an aerosolized mixture containing flavored liquids and nicotine that is inhaled by the user. E-cigarettes can resemble traditional tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or common gadgets like flashlights, flash drives, or pens.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports actions to prevent children and youth from using or being exposed to the vapor from e-cigarettes.
Here are facts and tips to help parents and caregivers address e-cigarette use and exposure.
Are They Safe?
The solution in e-cigarette devices and vapor contains harmful chemicals like antifreeze (made from one of two chemicals: propylene glycol or ethylene glycol), diethylene glycol, and carcinogens like nitrosamines which can cause cancer.
The nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive and can harm brain development.
E-cigarettes are not recommended as a way to quit smoking.
In some cases, e-cigarette devices have exploded, causing burns or fires.
Secondhand smoke/vapor from e-cigarettes is harmful to growing lungs.
Long-term health effects on users and bystanders are still unknown.
E-cigarettes can be used to smoke or "vape" marijuana, herbs, waxes, and oils.
E-cigarettes are not yet regulated nor approved for smoking cessation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the long-term health effects to users and bystanders are still unknown. Due to the lack of regulation, the chemical compounds in an e-cigarette device can vary between brands.
The best way to protect your children is to never smoke or vape near them. Talk with your doctor about quitting all tobacco. Never smoke indoors, in your car, or in places that children spend time.
Dangers to Youth:
E-cigarettes are the most commonly-used tobacco product among teens. In 2018, over 20% of high school students reported having used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days.
E-cigarettes contain a liquid solution that is usually flavored. Flavors, which are appealing to children, often are things like peach schnapps, java jolt, piña colada, peppermint, bubble gum, or chocolate.
Youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes in the future.
Children are exposed to e-cigarette advertising in the media, and in magazines and billboards.
Although it is illegal for e-cigarettes to be sold to youth under age 18, they can be ordered online.
Risk of Poisoning
E-cigarette solutions can poison children and adults through swallowing or skin contact.
A child can be killed by very small amounts of nicotine: less than half a teaspoon. See Liquid Nicotine Used in E-Cigarettes Can Kill Children.
As of 2016, liquid nicotine is required to be sold in childproof packaging.
Symptoms of nicotine poisoning include sweating, dizziness, vomiting, increased heart rate lethargy, seizures, and difficulty breathing.
Calls to poison control centers related to e-cigarette devices have skyrocketed in the last 5 years. In 2014, poison centers in the US reported 3,783 exposures to e-cigarette devices and nicotine liquid, compared to only 1,543 exposures in 2013. In 2015, 3,073 exposures were reported.
Recommendations for E-cigarette Users:
Protect your skin if handling e-cigarette products.
E-cigarette users should always keep e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine locked up and out of the reach of children and follow the specific disposal instructions on the label.
If exposure to liquid nicotine occurs, call the local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.
Additional Information & Resources: