Over the past few years, e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular with teens, who see them as fashionable accessories and a clean, “safe” way to indulge in a grown-up habit. But are e-cigarettes really harmless?

“E-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to smoking, nor are they risk-free,” says Sarah Garwood, MD, pediatric and adolescent medicine physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Teens who use e-cigarettes are vulnerable to becoming dependent on nicotine-containing products, including conventional cigarettes.”

Before talking with your child about the potential harms of e-cigarettes, arm yourself with a few facts.

When your child says:

“I’m not smoking—e-cigarettes make water vapor.”

You can say:

  • E-cigarettes deliver nicotine in every puff.
  • One e-cigarette may have as much nicotine as an entire 
    pack of conventional cigarettes. 

When your child says:

“Nicotine does not cause lung cancer—smoke does.”

You can say:

  • Nicotine is a highly addictive drug.
  • Nicotine is poisonous. The number of liquid-nicotine-related calls to poison control centers has jumped dramatically in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When your child says:

“I’m using nicotine-free cartridges.”

You can say:

  • The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found nicotine in “nicotine-free” cartridges.
  • The FDA found toxic chemicals (diethylene glycol and genotoxins) and carcinogens in e-cigarettes it has tested.

Concerned about your child’s e-cigarette use? For more tips, contact our Family Resource Center.

Category:

Expert Advice