Top Ten Things Parents Need to Know About E-Cigarettes
1. They don’t all look like cigarettes
- Some e-cigs are made to look like pens and can pass unnoticed in a classroom. E-cigs can look like tubes, pipes or even squares.
- Some have wild graphic patterns or plastic jewels and sequins decorating them.
- E-cigs don’t smell like traditional cigarettes, so use can go unnoticed.
2. Teens don’t call them e-cigarettes
- Ask your children if they use e-cigs and they may say no.
- Ask if they are using a disposable hookah, an e-hookah or a vape pen and you may be surprised at the answer.
- Many teens don’t realize that those are all essentially the same as e-cigs.
3. They are marketed to teens
- E-cig flavors include teen-friendly ones such as peach fuzzy navel, french vanilla and black cherry, in addition to tobacco and menthol flavors.
- Some e-cigarettes can connect to other electronic devices to play music and answer calls.
- Social media and YouTube are cluttered with e-cig ads and testimonials, often times paid.
4. Students are using them in school
- Products that look like pens or highlighters can easily be hidden by students in schools and classrooms, and smoke detectors won’t catch the vapor.
5. They (might) lead to cigarette use
- A large national survey of middle and high school students found that teens who used e-cigs were more likely to smoke regular cigarettes than teens who had not used them.
- Many e-cigs contain nicotine, the addictive drug in cigarettes. Even products claiming to be nicotine-free may contain significant amounts of nicotine, hooking unsuspecting users.
6. They can be modified for other drugs
- Companies in Colorado and California make liquid (also called juice) for e-cigs that contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
- YouTube videos are readily available with instructions on how to modify e-cigs to vape marijuana.
7. They aren’t treated like tobacco by the law
- E-cigs don’t have to follow the rules for cigarettes, like not advertising on TV.
- There are NO current age restrictions for purchasing e-cigs in Kentucky, and they are widely available to teens.
- They’re also not taxed like tobacco products, meaning they are cheap.
8. They pose safety concerns for the home, the teen who uses them and others breathing the air
- Nictoine in e-cigs may well contain a lethal dose of the drug, especially dangerous to curious children who might swallow the sweet-flavored e-juice.
- Lack of regulations on the manufacture of e-cigs, means they may can contain other ingredients that are dangerous but are not listed on the label. Formaldehyde (embalming fluid) is just one of the toxic chemicals in the liquid and the vapor.
- Despite advertising claiming e-cigs are safe, research is still unclear.
9. E-cigarette labels can be misleading
- E-cigs are advertised in a variety of strengths, some even claiming to have no nicotine at all.
- Independent labs testing found that labels are frequently wrong, and some products claiming not to contain nicotine do in fact have it.
10. More and more teens are trying them
- Ten percent of teens reported trying e-cigs in 2012, compared to 5% in 2011.
- The survey asked only about e-cigs and did not ask about e-hookahs or vape pens, so the numbers may be even higher.
Info: Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy, www.kcsp.uky.edu, 859-323-4587 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.