E-Cigarettes and Kids: What Parents Need to Know

Girl Holding no smoking sign


For decades, health organizations around the world have informed parents of the dangers of smoking cigarettes around their kids. Not only is secondhand smoke just as poisonous (if not more so) as primary smoking, but kids who see the adults in their lives light up are drastically more likely to pick up the habit themselves. Unfortunately, nicotine is addictive, and quitting smoking is physically and psychologically more difficult than stubbing out a cigarette for the last time.


In recent years, e-cigarettes have appeared as a viable alternative nicotine delivery system to traditional tobacco cigarettes. E-cigs eschew fire, paper, and tobacco leaves in favor of nicotine-infused water vapor to deliver a satisfying experience akin to smoking without many of the harmful effects of lighting up. However, the unfamiliar technology of e-cigs has sparked controversy across the globe, and many parents are fearful of switching to e-cigs when so many rumors persist.


The truth is that nicotine-addicted parents should be turning to e-cigarettes in droves for the myriad benefits they provide over traditional smoking apparatuses. Those who are still unsure can read the truth behind the following myths about vaping and children.


Myth #1: Vapor Contains Unsafe and Unknown Chemicals


For the most part, this myth is the precursor of every other fiction disseminated regarding e-cigarettes. Because health organizations have been decrying tobacco since the 1960s, the general public is pre-programmed to assume that any type of nicotine delivery system is abhorrently dangerous.


To date, a handful of published studies have found dangerous particles floating around in vapor from a few select brands of e-cigarette. One study found that trace amounts of silver, iron, nickel, and aluminum could chip off low-quality cartomizers and travel deep into lung tissue, causing harm. However, the amounts of these metals are far below the allowable daily exposure limits, and most e-cig companies were later found to have 880 times fewer instances of these metals than tobacco cigarettes. Earlier, the Food and Drug Administration located diethylene glycol (a toxic chemical in anti-freeze) at trace levels in two brands of e-cigarette. Since then, not one lab has been able to find any such diethylene glycol in any brand or vape juice.


While governments hasten to place regulations on the quality and ingredients of e-cigs and juice, it should be understandable that a few brands are less-than-superior. However, the industry appears to be self-regulating, and most companies are putting out as healthful products as possible.


Myth #2: Vapor Is a Public Health Hazard


Most claims such as this are based on the previous assumption — that e-cigs put out harmful chemicals that threaten vapers and anyone around them. However, we have learned this is simply not the case. In fact, secondhand vapor has been shown to be considerably free of toxins, which can’t be said for most cities’ air.


State and city governments in the United States have been quick to classify the new technology as tobacco products largely to calm the clamor coming from those who misunderstand how e-cigarettes work.


Myth #3: Nicotine Causes Cancer in Any Form


While nicotine is certainly an addictive substance, it actually could be somewhat healthful. Many labs are looking into using nicotine as an aid to sufferers of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, diabetes, obesity, and more.


Cigarettes cause cancer due to all of the poisonous chemicals used in treating and preserving the tobacco. Because e-cigs don’t use tobacco, they may be able to provide fantastic benefits — or simply sate a nicotine craving without any deleterious effects.


Myth #4: E-Cig Flavors Are Targeted At Kids


Many e-liquids come in sweet flavors with cute names, which has prompted some parents to question the main audience of e-cigarette sales. It is true that kids are attracted to sweet treats — but so are many adults. The pleasant tastes are meant to make the experience of vaping even more enjoyable to vapers and those around them, who likely enjoy sniffing strawberries-n-crème more than dense, burning tobacco.


Myth #5: E-Cigs Are Designed as Gateway Drugs


E-cigarettes were created as an alternative to traditional cigarettes, and most e-cig companies have absolutely no financial ties with Big Tobacco. That means that e-cig manufacturers have nothing to gain by their clients switching to traditional cigarettes or drugs.


Myth #6: E-Cigs Perpetuate the Addiction


E-cigarettes are perhaps just as addictive as tobacco cigarettes due to their use of nicotine. Replacing one addiction with another can be a highly beneficial choice. For example, swapping late-night binge eating with a short jog will help drop excess weight. Vaping instead of smoking makes the experience more pleasant and exposes loved ones to fewer toxic chemicals — it’s a win-win.


Plus, e-cigs are also some of the most effective smoking cessation devices on the market today. Unlike gum and patches, which provide nicotine but aren’t satisfying to most quitting smokers, e-cigs can be held and pulled, which is one of the most oft-missed sensations of ex-smokers. One study found that 73 percent of smokers who made the switch to e-cigs were able to completely kick their nicotine habit within one year. This, alone, should be the biggest reason smoking parents make the switch to e-cigarettes.

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