The number of children and teens using e-cigarettes is on the rise. E-cigarettes feature “cool” designs and the e-liquids are offered in a variety of candy and fruit flavors. Both of these products are readily available. E-cigarettes are also used and promoted by many celebrities in magazines, movies and music videos, which doesn't help. E-cigarettes are often advertised as a ‘safer alternative’ to cigarettes since they don’t fill the lungs with toxic tobacco smoke, but e-cigarettes haven’t been scientifically tested or proven to help quit smoking. Because of this, no positive health claims for e-cigarettes can legally be made. On the other hand, e-cigarettes can be dangerous to a person’s health in many ways:
- On their own, the flavorings and propylene glycol (a chemical) in the e-liquid can irritate the lungs and worsen breathing problems like bronchitis and asthma. When heated, these ingredients change form and create toxins. Formaldehyde (a colorless gas) can be produced at levels higher than seen with regular cigarettes.
- The heating process also releases heavy metals from the materials used in the manufacturing of the e-cigarettes, at levels higher than regular cigarettes.
- The vapor can be harmful to the user and to people exposed to the second hand e-cigarette smoke.
- There is currently no legislation requiring warning labels, child-proof packaging, or labelling for the percentage of nicotine in the e-liquid. So users can’t rely on labelling to know whether nicotine is present in the e-liquid and if there is nicotine, the concentration can vary.
- Like regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes with nicotine are linked to a many harmful effects on children and youth—from addiction to disruptive effects on the developing brain.
- E-cigarettes may lead to tobacco use in teens.
- The liquid nicotine used to refill e-cigarettes, even in small amounts, can be poisonous to a young child if ingested and also can be toxic if spilled on the skin.
- Batteries inside the e-devices have exploded on occasion.
Schools and parents need to educate children and teens on the dangers and risks of using e-cigarettes and being exposed to second-hand e-cigarette vapor. Federal health officials on April 17th, 2018 announced a nationwide crackdown on underage use of a popular e-cigarette brand following months of complaints from parents, politicians and school administrators. According to https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-juul-ecigarette-vape-20180424-story.html, "The Food and Drug Administration issued warnings to 40 retail and online stores as part of a month-long operation against illegal sales of Juul to children. Investigators targeted 7-Eleven locations, Shell gas stations and Cumberland Farms convenience stores as well as vaping shops."
This is a great way to start cracking down on smoke shops to lower the risk of teens and even younger getting ahold of these toxic devices.