Electronic cigarettes seem to be just about everywhere these days. Billed as an alternative to cigarettes for those trying to get a nicotine fix, electronic cigarettes are surging in popularity. Unlike normal cigarettes, electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) use water vapor instead of smoke. Many experts have pegged e-cigarettes as an effective means of quitting smoking. But the prevalence of electronic cigarettes could be posing a greater threat to children than previously thought.
Potential Dangers to Kids
Recent studies have shown that exposure to e-cigarettes can be harmful to children in a variety of ways. Drinking e-liquid has led to a rash of poisonings. According to a recent study in the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of children under age 6 poisoned by nicotine in e-cigarettes rose by nearly 1,500% over the last 2 years. Because the e-liquid often comes in flavors lie bubblegum and candy that are appealing to kids, it’s not uncommon for a child to drink enough liquid to get seriously ill or even die. Symptoms of exposure include hyperactivity, flushing, sweating, headache, dizziness, rapid heart rate, vomiting and diarrhea.
Kids witnessing the act of a parent smoking, whether it is a traditional cigarette or an electric alternative, can drastically increase the chances of that child becoming a smoker. You don’t want to instill the message that smoking of any kind is permissible. Even if the deadly smoke of cigarettes has been replaced by water vapor, your children may still be exposed to nicotine and other potentially hazardous chemicals through secondhand vapor. Certain brands of e-cigarettes are known to contain dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde that could be dangerous for both the smoker and those around them. Additionally, the e-liquid itself poses a threat to kids even when not in use. Kids who come into contact with e-liquid risk becoming sick from nicotine exposure, as well as skin irritation.
In the case of a poisoning emergency, we recommend taking the following precautions:
- Call the Poison Help Line immediately at 1-800-222-1222.
- Don’t smoke e-cigarettes in the presence of young children. This will help keep them from being exposed to nicotine and other chemicals like glycerol that could be harmful if ingested.
- Keep e-cigarettes and e-liquid away and out of reach of your kids. Supplies should be kept in high shelves or cabinets, not bags or purses that kids can easily access.
- If possible, lock up your e-cigarettes and e-liquid when you are not using them.
- Use childproof caps for e-liquid containers to prevent danger of accidental poisoning.
Safety and prevention starts at home. Talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking. If you’re going to use e-cigarettes, use them in a safe and responsible way that will not adversely affect the health of your children. If you have any questions or curiosities, please contact your healthcare providers at Children’s Wellness Center, we would be happy to help.