If you have a child, adopted child, step child, foster child, grandchild, or if you are just someone who cares about all children, you must know the following:
1. E-cigarettes are unregulated in the United States.
2. Many e-cigarettes contain toxic and carcinogenic chemicals including nicotine, which is absorbed into the bloodstream, is the same addictive drug found in cigarettes, and could cause lasting harm in brain development during adolescence.
3. The long-term hazardous effects of e-cigarettes on users and bystanders remains unknown.
And until now, e-cigarettes were being sold to and used by our children.
Kudos to the FDA, however, for taking the first important step in regulating e-cigarettes and protecting our children by implementing age restrictions on users. According to a recently published article, Protecting the Public and Especially Kids from the Dangers of Tobacco Products, Including E-Cigarettes, Cigars and Hookah Tobacco, the FDA is now taking steps to protect our children from the dangers of e-cigarettes. Someone must have been listening. Beginning in August 2016, it will be illegal nationwide to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under age 18. Additionally, retailers will not be allowed to give away free samples of newly deemed tobacco products, nor sell e-cigarettes in a vending machine where anyone under age 18 has access at any time.
Who is using e-cigarettes? The statistics are staggering: the use of e-cigarettes among high school students has skyrocketed from 1.5% in 2011 to 16% in 2015. For those non-mathematicians out there, that's a 900% increase in use. More alarmingly, middle school students are also using e-cigarettes. According to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarettes are among the most commonly used tobacco products. Surveys have demonstrated 3 million middle and high school students are using e-cigarettes.
But, that's not the scary part.
The scary part is that the e-cigarettes industry is, for the most part, completely unregulated in the United States. There is no governmental agency establishing standards for what can or can't be sold, how it can be sold, or what information needs to be included on labels for consumers. So, for example, today you may purchase an e-cigarette that you believe contains no nicotine, when in fact, it contains nicotine. Informative labels are required on food and beverage consumables, but somehow, E-Cigarettes have slipped under the radar. As a result, consumers are blindly inhaling who-knows-what into their lungs and exhaling it into our environment.
Even worse ...
Some of the ingredients used in e-cigarettes may contain toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that have not yet been tested in their gaseous form. Some of these chemicals are known to cause damage to blood vessels and lung inflammation when inhaled, but the long-term effects to users and bystanders remain unknown.
Parents: When reminding your children about the harmful effects of cigarette smoking, remember that e-cigarettes need to be part of that same conversation, too.
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