Are E-Cigarettes a Smoke Screen for a Larger Problem?

E-Cigarette Main
E-cigarette manufacturers claim their products offer a safer alternative to smoking or can be an effective tool to help quit smoking, but what are the real health implications of these devices?

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is moving to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and some cities have banned their use in public places.

Many people, including the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are concerned that the widespread prevalence of these “safer” cigarettes may cause a very dangerous ripple effect on our nation’s youth.

What We Don’t Know About E-Cigarettes Could Hurt Us

Dr. Tanya Martinez from the Pulmonology department at Children's Medical Center

Dr. Tanya Martinez from the Pulmonology department at Children’s Medical Center

Tanya Martinez, M.D., a doctor in Pulmonology at Children’s Medical Center and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in UT Southwestern’s Respiratory Medicine division, says it’s what we don’t know about e-cigarettes that’s part of the problem.

“Though the use of e-cigarettes is less maligned than traditional tobacco cigarettes, we still don’t quite know what the long-term implications of these devices are, including the risk of second-hand exposure,” Dr. Martinez says.

There’s also no way to know what exactly is in the nicotine vials, since there is currently no FDA regulation, and most vials are made overseas. “Even products claiming to have no nicotine in them have been found to contain traces of the substance, as well as other ingredients that are suspected carcinogens.”

E-Cigarette Poisonings on the Rise

E-Cigarette Blue with Vials

Did you know that current packaging of most e-cigarette vials is not childproof?

Dr. Martinez also points out the dangerous toxicity level of liquid nicotine, which can be fatal if ingested or absorbed through the skin, even in small quantities – a risk especially scary to parents of young children since current packaging of most vials is not childproof.

“There has been an increase in instances of calls to poison control centers since the introduction of e-cigarettes for concern of nicotine poisoning in children under 5, which, as a parent, I think is one of the most urgent and unsettling concerns about e-cigarettes. These should be treated like any other household poison, but yet they are marketed with flavors like bubble gum, chocolate and other candy flavors.”

Are E-Cigarettes the New Gateway Drug?

E-Cigarette ExhaleFrom a social perspective, e-cigarettes may put children at an increased risk to other harmful behaviors.

According to Dr. Martinez, “Though many older smokers use e-cigarettes as a way to cut back on the amount they smoke, unfortunately, younger Americans are being introduced to smoking by these devices, which could potentially serve as a gateway to using conventional tobacco products and other habits.”

Simply put, Dr. Martinez says, there is no “healthy way” to smoke.

What are your thoughts about e-cigarettes? Leave us a comment to tell us what you think about them.

 

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24 Responses to Are E-Cigarettes a Smoke Screen for a Larger Problem?

  1. Anonymous June 16, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    this is crazy and not true second hand smoke give me a break its water thats comes out of e cigs so get off your high horses

  2. Dan May 21, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    I read this article with some bias, I must admit. I’ve used a vaping mod for a couple of years, and I enjoy it. Also, I don’t eat right a lot of the time and I drink in excess sometimes. I’m a terrible person, you could say.

    Regardless, I found some things in this article to be true:

    Nicotine is toxic (albeit, a bit less toxic than the alcoholic beverages that built this fine country’s forefather’s riches).

    Second-hand exposure to e-liquid vapor might be harmful (and so I avoid as much as possible the asthma treatment room at the hospital, in case second-hand exposure to nebulized albuterol might be harmful).

    There have in fact been more reported cases of accidental ingestion of e-liquid, especially in children (but, as unfortunate as that is, the 2013 figure is still ten times smaller than the number of accidental ingestion of toothpaste).

    And no long-term studies exist yet on the effects of the carcinogens produced by vaporizing a nicotine solution (fortunately, it only took a few centuries for tobacco smoke studies to show its deadliness; hopefully, e-cigs studies will not take as long).

    Obviously, more regulation is needed…

  3. Josh May 17, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    I work at an e-cig shop specifically making e-liquid. We have a lab area in all of our locations that the e-liquid is made in. All of my employees where protective gear, use very clean equipment, and all of our ingredients (the usual PG,VG,nic,and flavor) have been FDA approved for human consumption or are generally accepted as safe to inhale. Our nicotine 99.998% pure, so there is never a need to worry about what your putting into your body because you know exactly whats in it. We have used child proof caps since we opened, we even go as far as having a sealed child play area to hang out in while parents vape and order juice. There has been plenty of tests on what we use and sure it may not be 100% safe but nothing is. All we want is a healthier world, and we have hundreds of testaments from our customers about how our juice and E Cigs helped them quit a multiple year unhealthy and costly habit. I can also attest to this, I’m a 21 year old type 1 diabetic and I smoked since I was 15. After reading research about the effect of smoking on type 1 diabetics I knew I had to quit, I tried everything I could/afford but nothing helped until I found e-cigs. Sure the initial purchase was a little pricey for someone of a young age, but in the first week I saved more money not buying analogs than the cost of my setup. I’m getting tired of all of this false or misleading information that will potentially make me jobless. I worked very hard to get to the position I’m in, I love my job and I love hearing people thank me for creating flavors that led them to a smoke free life. We cant let the government take away jobs and the most successful smoking cessation devices we have.

  4. Karen P May 15, 2014 at 6:39 am #

    This is absolutely ridiculous! A ‘gateway’ drug? Really? Is that the best you can come up with? Common sense will tell you to keep the bottles away from children, just like with all the other harmful things around your house. If you are going to rally against something please let it make sense. This article is an insult to anyone with a working brain cell. When my child was little, I didn’t keep medications, bug spray, knives or any other harmful things within her reach. WOW!

  5. Sommep May 14, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

    Disclaimer: I am not a vaper personally

    I know some people who have benefited greatly from ecigs. My debate teacher was smoking about a pack a day, and it was not good for either him, or the students. He started using an ecig and was able to wane off of traditional cigarets.

    On the other hand, I know some classmates who started with ecigs. They got them when they were 12. They used them off and on for about 2.5 years, and then they made the move to traditional cigarettes.

    Ecigs have a purpose. But they can also be abused. I believe that more regulation should be placed in the sale of ecigs

  6. Chris May 14, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    As an ecig vendor, I take great exception to this article. It’s absolutely full of misnomers that I wouldn’t expect from a health care professional.

    For example, it’s absolutely incorrect that there isn’t much information about ecigs and their safety. Here is a link to a site that has aggregated a good number of them, but by no means the majority of studies conducted:

    http://onvaping.com/the-ultimate-list-of-studies-on-e-cigarettes-and-their-safety/

    We also know EXACTLY what is in eliquid. There is a base that is food grade propylene glycol, and or food grade vegetable glycerin, food grade flavorings, and nicotine at the desired level. That’s it.

    It’s also wrong to say that most bottled eliquid sold in the US is made in China. That’s absolutely untrue. I own a shop and sell tons of bottled eliquid, and it’s all made right here in the US. There is a huge and burgeoning craft eliquid industry right here in the US. The vast majority of Chinese eliquid sold here in the US, is sold in prefilled cartomizers that are used with the cheap ecig product avilable at gas stations and the like.

    The proposed FDA regulation wouldn’t provide us any information as to what’s in my vendor’s eliquid, it would put them out of business. The cost to get a single flavor of eliquid approved for sale under the proposed regulation would be between $400,000, and $4 million. So when the FDA puts the entire ecig industry out of business, with the help of pharmaceutical industry propaganda like this article, it will be a huge boon to public health, as half or more of the people using ecigs, will go back to deadly combustible cigarettes. Great job doctor.

    • lance May 14, 2014 at 9:02 am #

      Chris, I have been vaping for over two years continuously at 18 my nic. I feel like a cloud has been lifted. I use to get sick 2 times a year, but have not been even remotely I’ll since I started. Vaping saved my life. And this doctor needs to go back to school. If she feels there is no evidence, maybe she should get some. Get ten vapers in a room and one non-vaper. Have the ten people vape for an hour. Test the non vapers nic level in the blood stream. Then ask, if there is nic in the bloodstream, how has their cognitive skills impoved. You’ll be surprised.

  7. Tim DeQuatro May 14, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    Why on earth would anyone go from vaping to nasty tasting tobacco products? Seriously, that’s ridiculous.
    And most e liquid containers ARE in fact stocked with child proof caps.
    And the nicotine toxicity is a joke. The concentrations are SO very much lower than the media would have you believe. Even if you mix your own, the highest mg/ ml ration is 100. That’s 1 parts per hundred. And for the record, DOCTOR, perhaps you have an all- bran cereal diet, but human beings enjoy different flavors and varieties- many of which are sweet. Should kids be drinking it? No, but they shouldn’t be eating quantities of toothpaste either- that can kill them too.
    We need to take responsibility as parents ( I have a three year old) and stop trying to get the government to regulate us because of awful parenting skills.
    And the toothpaste thing?
    More children have been hospitalized BY A LARGE MARGIN for that than for e liquid consumption- your just leaving out the skewed results based on the fact that once again, they’ve lumped that number in with chewing tobacco, nicotine gum and cigarettes.

  8. merna May 14, 2014 at 5:50 am #

    I have been a smoker for 14 years and nothing i would do to stop until my hubby introduced me to create a cig and omg it changed my life i do not have that deep nasty disgusting cough i had or smell of cig’s …I can breath like normal now i even glow again regular cig has tar and all that crap that can and will cause cancer …so if its not making me sick like regular cigarettes do then im happy for my self one year i have completed no regular cigarettes ..I am proud of myself and my life

  9. Cody stewart May 14, 2014 at 5:50 am #

    Oh look. More anti Ecigs propaganda that based all their information off rumors and no facts.

    “Smoking is dead and vaping is the future. The future is now”
    -RipTrippers

  10. Robert May 14, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    After seeing these terrible journalists post article after article with one-sided and bias reports, I really am considering getting into the business. I really miss when journalists were actually journalists and reported with an objective point of view.

    How about you actually write about the other side that has done many studies as well and disproved many of these claims.

    You really give ‘journalism’ a bad name. Shame on you.

  11. Jay May 13, 2014 at 11:40 pm #

    First off, this is a tired argument:
    These should be treated like any other household poison, but yet they are marketed with flavors like bubble gum, chocolate and other candy flavors.”

    The same could be said for alcohol. It’s the parents responsibility to keep dangerous chemicals away from children (and pets). You don’t leave bleach around where a child can get it. Or Cherry flavored Vodka. This is no different.

    Let’s go a bit further.
    Death Statistics:
    There has been 1 death attributed to nicotine juice since 2011. Keep in mind this was an intentional suicide where the person injected extremely high dose liquid directly into their veins.
    There are more than 480,000 deaths per year attributed to smoking according to the CDC.

    Chemical Composition:
    Ecigs contain:
    Propylene Glycol (PG) – “Generally Recognized as Safe” by the FDA. PG is used in many foods, sanitary products, inhalers, hospitals (circulated in air systems as a germicide) and fog machines. A common misconception is that PG is also “anti-freeze”. PG is used in anti-freeze to make it LESS toxic. This is a safe chemical that we ingest and inhale regularly.
    Vegetable Glycerin (VG) – Commonly used in foods as a humectant, solvent and sweetener. We ingest this daily,
    Flavorings – Generally food flavorings are used in Ecigs. We consider these safe to eat, and generally safe to vaporize.

    Cigarettes: There are actually thousands of chemicals and reactions caused by the combustion of tobacco products. Far too many to list as a comment here. I suggest you do an internet search for “cigarette chemical composition” and head on down that rat hole.

    Ecig’s are saving lives. Should there be some regulation and oversight? Absolutely. Should we be putting thousands of people out of work and closing up hundreds of mom and pop businesses due to regulations that only big tobacco and big pharma can meet? Absolutely not. Let’s be reasonable and intelligent. No sales to minors, keep dangerous products and chemicals away from children and pets.

    No one thinks ecigs are completely safe to use, but we know they are safer than the alternative, with a much higher success rate of getting people off cigarettes than the pharmaceutical alternatives, without many of the (sometimes life threatening) side effects.

  12. Mary Wales May 13, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

    I would assume that most adults who vape know to put their juice up out of the reach of children. I vape and I also am a mother. I was a 22 year smoker. I had asthma as well as reoccuring bronchitis or upper respiratory infection. I started vaping in Feb. of this year and feel a whole lot better. In saying this some folk need to learn and mind their own opinion.

  13. David May 13, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    Kind of a misguided article with just enough truth sprinkled in just to make it plausible. These are not in most cases being advertised as “quit smoking aids” or even as “safer than smoking”, I do agree with both of these statements, however it is the people who use them and have quit that have said they are safer, and that they can help you quit. We say safer based on research both before deciding to use them and still while using them. What we have found is that the 4 main components of e-liquid, sometimes a 5th being water. They are VG(Vegetable glycerin) PG (propylene glycol) Nicotine (as optional or from 3mg to 30mg), Flavorings (juices, extracts, man made or a combination of all) and in some cases Deionized water to thin the VG. Now, I wont go into all of the research available online about each, but, each one is approved by the FDA and EPA, none of them have been shown (with the exception of nicotine) to be addictive or cause cancer. Nicotine while addictive, is in fact less addictive when removed from tobacco products and in fact, nicotine alone has yet to be shown to cause cancer. While nicotine is a poison in high enough concentrations, it has only been sold to 18+ adults, or those misrepresenting themselves with a parents credit card on line. The same can not be said about the numerous other poisons found with out child safety safeguards found in your home. Most of 1 type of prefilled e-cig may be made over seas, however, they are regulated to that countries standards. Those are also the ones I previously said have helped very few people quit, and are not refillable with e-liquid made by shop owners in your state, these are the only e-cigs which would remain if current regulation guidelines stand. A study in the UK as to an e-cig being a “gateway” to regular cigarettes has shown this no to be the case. The study showed that 99% of those using e-cigs are either are smokers, using them to quit or cut down there cigarette usage, or ex-smokers using them to stay off cigarettes while reducing their nicotine dependence. The 1% were kids. However, most of that 1% were kids whom smoke, AND of those, were those who’s parents were using the e-cig to quit smoking and bought one to help their kid(s) quit smoking. I could find no such report or survey done in the USA. For anyone looking into e-cigs, whether you are looking to use them to quit, or looking for info about safety, please check out CASAA, as well as searching the web for DIY info about e-liquid. Knowledge is fact based, he said she said and “MAY BE” is not.

  14. lungsaved May 13, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    Tylenol, Nyquil, Pepto bismo…. Paint, dish soap, nail polish…..shampoo, Mr bubble, icy hot…..sugar, yeast, coffee…. Motor oil, gasoline, house paint…. LIQUOR, RX DRUGS, CIGARETTES….. I could go on and on with the products in our homes that “if consumed by children” can have dangerous, damaging, and deadly consequences… And the reality is that every product listed above has more Incidents of complaints to the FDA every year then electronic cigarettes have EVER caused. And when a child is exposed to these products we do not seek to ban these products or report on the deadly dangers of the Brillo pad, we investigate the parents for allowing their children to be exposed to such chemicals. E cigs helped me quit a deadly 15 yr habbit in one try and have not nor will I ever return.it also allowed me to step off of nicotine effortlessly and succeeded where all other sedation products fell short. I know my lungs are healthier, I can exercise, play w my kids, and not cough up flem every morning. I watched generations of my family die because despite a deep desire to quit , no effective method was available to assist them. The ingredients in a ecig are no dog than that of an inhaler and the exhaled vapor is the exact same exposure as u get from a fog machine at a concert or Halloween event. If truely interested in your readers well being I highly suggest some further research beyond FDA talking points and using other unjustified bans usually by classifying a vapor pen as a tobacco product despite ZERO tobacco present… To justify further fear mongering on this life changing potentially world changing product. We as capers want safety. We want transparency in what we put in our body like anyone else. But if ur gonna attack ecigs as dangerous to children u might wanna include some perspective

  15. Vape Shop Owner May 13, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    So we are again offering poorly worded scare tactic articles, filled with “could” and “might” in place of research and good parenting? There have been many studies done , supported by doctors and educational non profit groups like CASAA.org and American Vaping Association, which show the benefits of vaping. While these are not ten year studies, they have so far shown that e-cigs do not contain even close to a harmful level (if at all) of anything that articles like these are inconclusively stating they “might have”. Last time I checked, we know for sure that cigarettes kill people, and continue to be one of the leading causes of death and disease. These cancer sticks, happen to be grand fathered into approval by the FDA. Let me reitterate. Cigarettes, a leading cause of death and cancer, are FDA approved thanks to profits by big tobacco and pharmaceutical companies. With that, cigarettes do not have child proof lids, and many lighters, candles, and matches, don’t either. Many alchohal bottles, labelled as fruity flavors and pictures of rasberries and bubble gum, do not contain child proof lids. If my child drinks fruity alchohal I leave within reach, it’s due to my poor parenting. However, if my child gets into my e-líquid, It is actually the fault of an unregulated industry. Interesting. Also interesting is that none of these articles mention that 95% of the increase in calls to poison control are citizens calling to inquire as to the safety and effect of vaping. Personally, I would much rather my kid start vaping, because the likely hood of that resulting in them smoking cigarettes is pretty low. Poor parenting or parents smoking cigarettes however, probably plays a larger role. I was a pack a day Marlboro smoker, and successfully quit through vaping. I opened a shop with the purpose of helping others quit smoking as well. I am not providing links to anything as this is being typed on my phone. I would urge anyone that reads this to actually take the time to porperly educate themselves. Nothing in articles like these provides any actual information. They are merely effectively worded to shock and scare the masses too gullible to do their own research. Lastly. My shop does not sell to minors, and all the e-liquid we carry is USA made in sterile labs. It all contains ingredient lists and warning labels. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled so easily. Look around “CASAA.org” to discover the factual information related to the benefits of vaping, and on why the proposed regulations will muscle out all small-medium sized businesses in the industry.

  16. Anonymous May 13, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    Kids eat tomatoes they have nicotine in them why don’t we ban them.

  17. Lorrie May 13, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    Well I have been smoke free for almost a year now and saved a lot of money and my blood prusher has gone way down and I no longer have a breathing problem

  18. Owen May 13, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    Agree with Lynette – I used it to quit smoking, but I refuse to do it in closed quarters with kids around because of second hand nicotine inhalation. I quit smoking on January 1st, and have only had 3 cigarettes since then and the last one I had is the last one I ever intend to have. I am now working on lowering the amount of nicotine I use so eventually be off nicotine completely. Anyone who sells these to minors though should be prosecuted though as its still nicotine so Children shouldn’t be allowed to purchase them. In terms of sales it should be regulated everywhere.

    • Hugo May 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

      Please provide a link, to a study that hows ANY harmful “second hand vapor” in ANY way shape or form. Until you can provide such a link, please stop spreading rumors about any dangers. They simply do not exist, and all studies made, have reached that conclusion.

  19. stephanie May 13, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    I’m 39 and smoked a pack a day for 15 years and have quit smoking Thanks to vaping, however I am concerned about what this is doing to my lungs because I have asthma and I know that’s crazy that I smoked but I’ve been symptom free for years until I started vaping and everyone is telling me I’m having attacks because my lungs are cleaning out from all the smoke but is that really true? Any medical help would be greatly appreciated.

  20. Lynette May 13, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    It is just like anything else out there. You are responsible to keep children safe so therefore keep them out of reach of children just as you would cigarettes. I feel that they are a tremendous help to quit smoking which is far worse than the e-cig. I have been using the vape cig for a while now and I do not smoke regular cigarettes at all. The goal with most people who are quitting smoking is to reduce nicotine usage and eventually stop vaping. I myself started off with a pretty high nicotine amount and am down to a pretty low amount now. I believe within the next 6 or 8 months I will not be using any type of nicotine at all. That is how well this works. People are making this more than what it is.

    • Anonymous May 13, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

      Could not possibly agree more with you. What a crock from this Dr. Blowing it way out of proportion. Be happy if a teen smokes the is instead of rat poison and keep your vaping products away from kids. It’s called being a good parent.

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