While e-cigs contain no tobacco products they do contain nicotine and other toxins that can be both habit forming and unhealthy. For tobacco users the e-cig may help reduce or eliminate their use of cigarettes but recent advertising campaigns are targeting the young non-cigarette user. There is no age restriction to purchasing e-cigarettes in person or online.
Recently there has been a big upsurge in children using e-cigarettes. In fact, in a recent survey conducted among students at eight U.S. colleges found that 12 percent of e-cig users had never smoked a conventional cigarette.According to a recent NPR report, students say some of their peers at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C. use e-cigarettes. And that unlike smoking, “vaping” is perceived as something new and cool.
Big tobacco companies like Phillip Morris are now in the e-cig business and they have the resources and experience to promote e-cigarettes.The manufacturers say they are not marketing to children but they do offer kid-friendly flavors like bubble gum, caramel and chocolate.
There is concern among communities about the use of e-cigarettes in public places. On March 4, 2014, LA city lawmakers outlawed “vaping” — the practice of inhaling the vapors produced by e-cigarettes — in most work sites and many public places, including parks and certain beaches.
What Can Parents Do?
The adolescent brain is more susceptible to nicotine than an adult brain. Addictive products like e-cigs should be a concern for parents. Here are a few talking points to help you engage in the conversation with your children:
- Educate yourself first. Search the web, talk with you doctor, learn more about e-cigs and risks associated with using them. Over 1.8 million kids have tried e-cigs, 1 out of every 10 high school students. Chances are your kids have tried themselves or the know someone who has used e-cigs.
- Clearly state the substances and behaviors that you think are not okay for your kids and your family, and why. Alcohol, tobacco products, e-cigs, drugs, texting while driving – those things that cause harm.
- Educate your kids that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, an addictive substance, as well as a stimulant, and overall dangerous drug. In fact, some e-cigs contain more nicotine that tobacco cigarettes.
- Tell you kids that cancer-causing chemicals are found in e-cigarette cartridges.
- E-cigs do not leave a tell-tale odor so detecting use can be tricky. Symptoms can include a dry cough, as well as mouth and throat irritation. If these symptoms are persistent in your child, and have no other known cause, you might want to investigate if there has been e-cigarette use.