By: Alonso Chavarriaga
Linda Reid, MD, is a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and believes that e-cigarettes can actually serve as a gateway to smoking for young people. Teens and young adults are at an impressionable age where something appealing and fashionable can be hard to resist.
The Rise of Electronic Cigarettes
ver the last few decades, Dr. Reid points out that smoking has become a lot less appealing because of the negative side effects associated with cigarette use. Despite this, the e-cigarette companies have used immense marketing campaigns to shift the interest to back to their own products. Electronic cigarettes are sold with liquid nicotine that comes in more than 7,000 flavors such as bubble gum, cotton candy, and watermelon. These flavors appeal to younger people, and the colorful liquids give off a playful vibe.
According to Dr. Reid, the appeal to younger smokers is what makes e-cigs especially dangerous. Young adults don’t have fully matured nervous systems, and starting nicotine at those ages can have a significant effect on their brain, leading to a lifelong addiction to nicotine. The tobacco companies want to make lifelong customers, and ensnaring youths at an early age will keep them coming back for more.
Hidden Risks of E-Cigs
While they may look safer, electronic cigarettes come with risks of their own. There is a part called an atomizer that creates the vapor, which is inhaled and exhaled afterwards. Depending on how quickly the atomizer is turned up, the vapors can include carcinogens that can cause second-hand smoking and cancer.
Another component of e-cigarettes that can be a source of danger is the liquid nicotine cartridges. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate liquid nicotine, and the cartridges are not consistent in terms of the amount of nicotine they contain. Liquid nicotine are so potent, one electronic cigarette can contain as much nicotine as a whole pack of regular cigarettes.
The bright colors of the nicotine cartridges can also present a risk if you have children in the house. There have been over 4,000 cases in the past year alone of children under the age of six perceiving the cartridges to be candy, and eating them. Many of those children were sent to the hospital for nicotine poisoning, and one toddler from the East Coast died.
If you’ve started using e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking, or know anyone that has, look for alternative methods of quitting instead. Dr. Reid mentions oral medication, patches, and the use of your local communities and doctors for added support. Young teens may seem attracted to the brightly colored flavors and sexy allure that comes with smoking, but Dr. Reid urges you to point out that nicotine is not safe in any way. In fact, it can be more addictive than cocaine and heroine, and smoking can quickly turn into a lifelong commitment.
In the accompanying audio segment, Linda Reid, MD, discusses electronic cigarettes and vaping, and what your job is, as a parent, in educating your children about the possible health risks.