Starting August 2016, the FDA’s authority has been extended to include all items that meet the definition of a tobacco product; this includes hookahs, pipe tobacco, cigars, dissolvables, and, even e-cigarettes. What the new rules means is that e-cigarette companies will answer to the FDA concerning the components of the e-cigarette’s vapor, just like cigarette companies do.
The age restriction to purchase an e-cigarette is 18 years old. The target age for e-cigarette companies is middle/high school age students and before recently, there hasn’t been any restrictions or regulations on e-cigarettes. A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control in 2015 found that e-cigarettes were the most popular way for administering nicotine to young people, followed by hookahs. Traditional cigarettes fell to third place.
What exactly is an e-cigarette?
E-cigarettes don’t burn or produce smoke. Instead, they create a vapor that is result of heating a liquid (which is why smoking e-cigarettes is commonly referred to as “vaping”.)
- e-cigarettes use a liquid that contains a mixture of nicotine, different flavorings, and other chemicals.
- e-cigarettes also contain potentially harmful ingredients, including: ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead
- e-cigarettes don’t burn, so they don’t require the use of fire or matches. Instead, they use batteries. Making the use of these e-cigarettes easier for kids to conceal.
- e-cigarettes resemble other everyday objects such as pens, pipes, and obviously traditional cigarettes.
Are they harmful?
- e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is not only highly addictive, but has been found to negatively affect the development of the brain in children and teens.
- Nicotine poisoning caused by improper use of e-cigarettes or ingestion of the e-cigarette liquid causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and in some cases, coma or death. The number of calls to poison centers to report incidence of nicotine poisoning caused by e-cigarettes increased 15-fold between 2012 and 2015, found a study published in Pediatrics.
- A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that using e-cigarettes at high voltages causes the emission of formaldehyde, a potent carcinogen.
- 4 million students in high school or younger were smoking cigarettes in 2014 and that number is increasing.
- 69% of students in high school or younger have been exposed to cigarettes and believe that cigarettes are readily available to them.
- Youth who use e-cigarettes are 6 times more likely to move on to trying and become addicted to traditional cigarettes.
Scared yet? Remember that the use of e-cigarettes can be easily concealed by your kids. Keep an open line of communication with your kids, and not just when they are in trouble. Talk to them about their day, their friends, and their interests. Those three things can tell you a lot about what you child sees and hears during the day and what they think is cool. Explain the risks of using e-cigarettes and help prepare your child for an encounter with them.
For more tips on talking with your child about the use of e cigarettes, here’s a Parent Tip Sheet