Recently, I had a rare opportunity to watch cable TV in the evening. As I sunk into the sofa I heard something that probably hasn’t been heard on TV in decades: “as a cigarette smoker, I’m always looking for the best puff.” I looked up and saw a healthy appearing young man describe the benefits of a new cigarette. At this point I was speechless! This was the first of two different commercials for vaporized cigarettes or e-cigarettes, that I saw over the course of the evening. The second featured attractive scientists in a lab creating a cigarette with the newest technology that gave “efficient” puffs. Unlike the pharmaceutical commercials that I’m now accustomed to hearing, neither mentioned any potential dangers or side effects of nicotine. Neither really mentioned the word nicotine at all.
E-cigarettes are new, and were intended to help those addicted to traditional cigarettes reduce their usage and ultimately quit smoking. I am supportive of helping smokers cut back, quit, or even use a product that may not smell bad and could produce less second hand smoke! The advertisements themselves didn’t frustrate me as much as the lack of any warnings accompanying the products. Even alcohol commercials these days warn the viewer to “please drink responsibly.” If I were a teen viewing these ads, I would think the product looked cool, modern, and with no side effects at all. So what should parents know about e-cigarettes?
1. An e-cigarette or vaporized cigarette is a cigarette. It contains a drug, nicotine, that is addictive and can be harmful to the body. Nicotine is associated with heart disease, including increasing a person’s risk for heart attack.
2. While e-cigarettes may contain fewer harmful toxins (there are no tobacco leaves or paper that needs to be filtered) it still contains a drug. Vaporized cigarettes may lead to more ingestion of nicotine as the devices allow for more puffs, there is no pungent smell, and they are less often recognized by non-smokers as a cigarette.
3. E-cigarettes can be used to inhale more that just nicotine. Hash oil (marijuana) can easily be inhaled using a vape pen. Local high schools have had a significant increase in the confiscation of these devices and school officials have stated that they can’t tell what was being abused as there is no smell.
4. E-cigarettes are very new. There is not much research out yet to say whether or not they are truly helpful or harmful. To me, this means proceed with caution. While e-cigs may help tobacco users reduce their use, the medical community cannot say that e-cigarettes are safe. These devices are easy to use and don’t look like cigarettes so are showing up in schools. Talk with your teen about the potential harm that could come if they’ve never smoked but started using one of these devices and became addicted to nicotine.
Do readers have any thoughts about e-cigarettes, vaporized cigarettes, or e-vapes?
If you or your teen uses tobacco and is interested in cutting back or quitting, check out these resources:
1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669). I called this number and a live person answered! Each program differs by state, but they offer coaching and support.
Smokefree.gov: http://smokefree.gov/ This site describes the harms of tobacco and offers a variety of ways to help quit including developing a plan to quit.
For more on e-cigarettes, see previous blog posts:
From Seattlemamadoc: E-cigarettes