May 22, 2015 Post By: Children's Health

Are E-Cigarettes a Smoke Screen For a Larger Problem?
Are e-cigarettes safer than regular cigarettes? Read what Dr. Martinez from Children's Health has to say about the potential dangers to children.

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 Exhale

From 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.