E-Cigarettes: What Parents Need to Know


E-Cigarettes are increasing in popularity as a smoking cessation aide or alternate means of nicotine delivery for adults, but their popularity with teens is on the rise too.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), e-cigarette use isn’t just up among adults, but it has tripled in usage for teens.

What Are e-Cigarettes?

E-Cigarettes are a vaporizer device for the delivery of liquid nicotine as an alternative to traditional smoked cigarettes. While it is true that they do not contain tobacco, they still deliver nicotine, which is an addictive substance with known toxic side effects. Unfortunately, they are not regulated by the FDA so we don’t know how much of each ingredient is in each device.

What Does This Mean for the Health My Teen?

For teens, we are certainly worried about the potential for addiction to these products. Since the dosage is not regulated, and we can’t ensure how much your child is exposed to, we also can’t guarantee the health risks. We do know that nicotine can affect brain development in kids and teens, so it is important to educate your teen on the risks of exposure. If you have young children in the home, it is important to be vigilant as well. One teaspoonful of liquid nicotine can be fatal for a young child. As of December 2014, there was already one confirmed death in New York state attributed to liquid nicotine.

How Do I Monitor My Teen for e-Cigarette Use?

This can be tricky for parents since traditional cigarettes were easy to detect by smell and residual odor. E-Cigarette use, or “vaping,” is often associated with a dry cough or chronic throat/mouth irritation.

Although traditional cigarette use has declined in teens over the past few years, e-cigarette use is on the rise. A recently published study in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to use traditional tobacco products as well. Overall, we certainly have concerns that these devices may be the new “gateway to the gateway drug” and strongly encourage all parents to talk to their children about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes.

Elaine Cudnik, NP

Elaine Cudnik says a love of children and science led her to pursue a career as a pediatric nurse practitioner. She is dedicated to providing comprehensive care to her patients while being accessible to parents.

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