Parents may try electronic cigarettes to help them quit smoking. Teens may try them because they think they are safer than regular cigarettes. One electronic cigarette, however, can have as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found cancer-causing chemicals in electronic cigarettes.

In a recent article from the American Academy of Pediatrics, a warning was issued to patients and parents about the dangers of e-cigarettes:

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Image courtesy of Consumer Reports – http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/04/do-e-cigarettes-help-smokers-quit/index.htm

Reprinted from aap.org

“ Electronic cigarettes are advertised as a way to help smokers quit. Also known as e-cigarettes or e-cigs, they are sold in many colors, shapes, sizes and flavors, such as vanilla, chocolate and peach schnapps. The devices have a battery, vaporizer and cartridge that make a mist that is inhaled. Smocking e-cigarettes is known as “vaping”.

E-cig usage has doubled among middle and high school students. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one in 10 high school students admitted using an e-cigarette.

E-cigs are not regulated or approved by the FDA and do not have to follow the same rules as other nicotine products. This means that the amount of nicotine and other harmful ingredients in each cartridge is not always the same. In addition, it’s easy for kids to buy e-cigs. More than half of states allow kids of any age to purchase e-cigarettes, and they’re easy to get online and in mall booths.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to talk with their kids about the dangers of e-cigarettes. Most cartridges have 20 milligrams of nicotine, and a dose of as little as 10 milligrams of nicotine can be fatal for a child. In addition, children can easily become hooked on the nicotine.
Parents who think their child may be using e-cigarettes should watch for signs of nicotine addition, according to the AAP. This includes feeling nervous, craving e-cigarettes and not being able to quit. Parents who are trying to quit smoking should avoid using e-cigarettes and try other options that are approved by the FDA, such as nicotine patches or gum.”

The Texas Law and E-cigarettes

Although e-cigarettes are not completely regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Texas state law does not permit sellers of tobacco products to sell these items to minors. So far, in Texas, it is permissible to use e-cigarettes unless otherwise stated in county codes and law [1]. For example, in smoke free counties Lufkin and San Angelo the use of electronic cigarettes is strictly prohibited in 100% smoke free venues and is punishable by law [2].  Additionally, the FDA’s Regulation of E-Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products statement is available on their official website. For more information about e-cigarettes laws in Texas, please contact Texas Department of State Health Services.

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.