New Questions to Ask About E-cigarettes


Starting as a way to reduce cigarette use, e-cigarettes are now raising new questions for parents and health officials. The biggest question, pointed out by Forbes, asks if the new popularity of e-cigarettes will undo all of the progress made in reducing teen smoking.

Then comes the question of whether e-cigarettes will open the door to smoking for a new young audience who have never smoked.

Learning What Is Going On

E-cigarettes are supplanting cigarettes but research is now looking closely at where it is going next. If you have a teen, work with teens, or have children headed toward the teen years, you may be well aware of this problem.

I think the best questions might focus on what is happening in our children’s schools, neighborhood and community. Young teens always want to seem older and e-cigarettes can be one more way to do that if no one jumps in and intervenes.

In all of the commotion about reducing smoking, very little has been said about possible dangers of e-cigarettes. This may be a call for all of us to bring it up with friends, teachers and community officials to expose the problem and implement ways to shut it down before it settles in.

Pediatrics published a study that said nearly a quarter of high school juniors and seniors had used an e-cigarette at least once, and nearly one in five had smoked a traditional cigarette. But two in every five teens currently using e-cigarettes had never smoked a traditional cigarette. The research suggests e-cigarettes may be claiming a new audience who might not have used cigarettes.

Exposing Health Risks

Just as important, some researchers reported many who tried e-cigarettes had friends who were using them, and nearly half of the e-cigarette users said they did not think the products had any health risks.

Teens may not be aware of health risks because there is not enough public exposure of the risks.

Perhaps the best suggestion to fight the trends may be to de-glamorize it. If teens understand that e-cigarettes came about as a crutch to get people off of cigarettes, some of its new glamour might fade.

Instead of a cool new thing to try, it could be linked to all of the ugly, dangerous realities of smoking that have helped to reduce smoking, such as the very graphic commercial showing the sad health realities of smoking.

As always, if this issue appears in your family, or you have more questions, see your pediatrician or family doctor for assistance.


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