Editorial: Talk to children about the dangers of e-cigarettes

Published 9:45 am Monday, October 21, 2013

The use of e-cigarettes among high school students has doubled in the past year, according to a statement last month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also said one in 10 students have smoked — or vaped, as it’s called — an e-cigarette.

Does that worry you, parents?

It should.

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Whether delivered by tobacco cigarette or battery-operated e-cigarette, nicotine is an addictive substance. E-cigarettes turn synthetic nicotine, flavor and chemicals into a vapor inhaled by the user. Imagine conventional smoking but it tastes like grape Kool-Aid instead of tar and smoke.

Obviously, these products are marketed toward our children.

There are many makers of e-cigarettes, so the kinds of chemicals each use varies. Many makers claim e-cigs are healthier than conventional cigarettes. They are marketed as a “therapeutic” alternative to smoking. And, yes, there is not the problem of secondhand smoke.

“We don’t know what’s in it. People are inhaling some vaporized compound into their lungs without really knowing what’s in it,” said Dr. Mike Feinstein with the American Lung Association.

But know this: The Food and Drug Administration in 2009 released findings of a test it performed on e-cigarettes and found carcinogens and toxic chemicals, including ingredients found in antifreeze. There is plenty of research on the dangers of nicotine mixed with the chemicals of tobacco cigarettes, but who knows what the dangers of synthetic nicotine are? And little is known about what really is in the e-cigarettes. That alone is bothersome.

Absent FDA action — it’s sad what little regulations there are to protect consumers from all kinds of snake oil sellers — the e-cigarettes continue to proliferate in America. If the government cannot act, we urge parents to do the right thing. Talk to your children about the dangers of physical addiction and urge them to stay away from cigarettes and e-cigarettes. We do not want another generation of smokers of any sort.