Electronic Cigarettes and Children

January 31st, 2012 | Posted by Smokee in Smokee Blog

Clearly kids smoking anything is a bad idea.  Also, clearly I am not talking about little kids like the little guy to the right here.  However, electronic cigarettes bring up an interesting new issue.  How do you handle a product that is not a tobacco product and does not always contain nicotine?

On one side of the argument, we have a device that functionally creates flavored water vapor. It comes in all kinds of kid friendly flavors like “Very Vanilla”, “Cherry Crush” and”Peppermint Party”.  When look at it from this narrow perspective, it is really not a big deal to let kids enjoy vaping the non-nicotine cartridges. But that is jsut crazy talk.

We all know where this goes.  It is a slippery slope from sticking a vaporizer that is shaped like a cigarette in your mouth to upgrading to cartridges with nicotine.  E-Cigs are fine for adults that know they are hooked up on nicotine, but clearly the world does not need any new nicotine addicts, especially young ones.

It is going to be interesting to see how this shakes out, many of the states in the US are pushing bills in an attempt to stop underage e-cig smoking the the way that regular tobacco cigarette smokers are banned.  Specifically Idaho is working on passing a bill.

“E-cigarettes are marketed with flavorings, he said, as “an enticement to get children to start smoking.” He called the bill “a first attempt … to regulate the sales of these so they don’t get to minors.” - Rep. Bob Nonini

“Rep. Sue Chew, D-Boise, noted that a clause in the bill requires any mail-ordered electronic cigarette purchased on a credit or debit card to be shipped only to the address of record of the cardholder, as part of its age-verification requirements.” Clearly this is a non-perfect first step, but a step in the right direction none the less.

Here are a few links to further your research:

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/jan/30/idaho-bill-would-ban-e-cigarettes-kids/

http://www.aolnews.com/2010/09/16/your-kids-buy-e-cigs-do-you-know-whats-in-them/

Please share your ideas and opinions with us in the comments below. For those of you that are clearly of age and are considering a switch to e-cigarettes, please have a look at our review site @ smokee.com for the best electronic cigarettes.

 

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6 Responses

  • I have also heard so much about E-Cigarette these days but i never know these facts which you have described us here. Thank you very much for posting this blog for us.

  • Thulium says:

    Although you claim it is “a slippery slope”, why do you think that a non-smoker who is not already addicted to nicotine would decide to use nicotine in an e-cigarette? If such a person existed, do you have any reason to believe that they would become addicted to nicotine alone, without any of the other chemicals including the habit-reinforcing MAOIs present in tobacco? If somehow a non-smoker did choose to use nicotine and somehow became addicted, what could possibly cause them to suddenly abandon the “kid friendly flavors” and desire the taste of burnt tobacco leaves?!?

    It is disingenuous and downright dishonest to claim that the unlimited availability of flavors is somehow “an enticement to get children to start smoking.” Flavored cigarettes (except, of course, for the ONLY flavor that is actually used by underage smokers and sold by Big Tobacco: menthol) are already banned, and there is absolutely no reason to suspect that flavored smoke-free tobacco products are going to cause non-smokers to choose ashtray-flavored cigarettes. Are children the only ones who like Cherry, Vanilla, or Peppermint? Are alcohol and condom manufacturers marketing to children when they offer products in these flavors??

    I completely agree that e-cigarettes should not be marketed to non-smokers and sales to children should be outlawed.. That’s why they’re called “e-cigarettes” in the first place: Non-smokers aren’t interested in anything with the word “cigarette” in the name, but smokers obviously are.

    • Smokee says:

      I question how my opinion in a blog is “dishonest”, but I will move past that. I was addressing the issue of children smoking e-cigs. I feel personally that the barrier to entry is lower than a real cigarette in that there are a lot of flavors that have been banned in the regular cigarette space. That being said, I think that many adults enjoy the alternative flavors and they are a benefit to the e-cig smokers of the world. I personally hope that the flavors to not get regulated out.

      On a separate point, you mention that people get addicted to other chemicals within the cig that are not just nicotine. While there may be some truth to that, I think studies have shown that nicotine is the primary issue in addiction to paper cigarettes.

  • Kia says:

    It’s interesting to note that nicotine by itself is not really very addicting. All it does is stimulate the release of dopamine into the system. It is the other chemicals found in analogue cigarettes that cause the real addiction. http://www.statepress.com/archive/node/7194

    Modern studies tend to point toward nicotine not being terribly addictive, but more the act of smoking, the anticipation of smoking, the social aspect, certain activities associated with it (often drinking) are more addicting than the nicotine itself. In other words nicotine cravings are more of a psychological desire than a physical dependence. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713144920.htm

    Analogue cigarettes have the MAOIs that aid in addiction to cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes do not. E-cigarettes have harmless ingredients. The most dangerous component of an e-cigarette is the nicotine itself, which is not nearly as addictive as once thought, is not a carcinogen, and is only toxic in relatively high amounts. A bottle of 24mg (extra-high nicotine concentration) e-cigarette fluid will not deliver nearly as much nicotine as the highest-concentration nicotine patches. The strongest patch I know of contains 114mg of nicotine and relases 21mg into the bloodstream daily. The average cigarette contains 0.5mg of nicotine and by inhaling the smoke, the smoker takes into their body about 10% of that nicotine. So for example a 15 a day smoker would absorb 7.5mg of nicotine. And yet patches still have the same failure rate for helping quit smoking as quitting without assistance. http://www.fox5sandiego.com/news/kswb-study-finds-nicotine-patchesgum-ineffective-20120109,0,755451.story

    The benefit of electronic cigarettes is that they replicate the smoking habit, but without any of the dangerous additives of analogue cigarettes. This allows smokers to retain all the psychological benefits and physical actions of their smoking habit without polluting their body with tar and the other crud that comes with smoking regular cigarettes. It would seem that this would allow smokers to ease off of their regular cigarette habit and replace it with the much cleaner, healthier habit of using an electronic cigarette.

    As for children, electronic cigarettes really aren’t all that appealing. By far, the most popular flavored cigarettes on the market are menthols. It has been that way for a very long time. Even amongst young smokers. Taking flavored cigarettes off the market did virtually nothing to decrease the smoking rate for younger people. So the flavors offered by e-cigarettes aren’t really a factor here. The Tobacco Act banned all flavored cigarettes except for menthol. This had the effect of banning less than .01% of cigarettes in the domestic cigarette market while the cigarettes that were exempted make up about 50% of the American youth cigarette market and more than 25% of the adult market.

    Second, analogue cigarettes have a certain amount of prestige amongst the younger population. For them it is proof that they are “cool,” they are doing something illicit, something their parents and society don’t want them doing. Electronic cigarettes don’t have that aspect. An e-cigarette doesn’t have so much of a stigma, it isn’t “cool,” and it just doesn’t have the impact of being prestigious amongst younger people. Not like regular cigarettes. So e-cigarettes just aren’t as desirable to the younger population.

    Finally, there is a high cost associated the initial purchase of an e-cigarette. My first purchase of an electronic cigarette cost me over $200. Now there are simpler packages that cost around $80, and there are disposable e-cigarettes available for around $20. A pack of 20 analogue cigarettes costs less than $8 in most places. This is a much more accessible price for younger people. Additionally, it is much more likely for a young person to “bum” an analogue cigarette from some one, steal a pack of cigarettes, purchase cigarettes with a fake ID, etc than for that same young person to get ahold of an electronic cigarette. While the e-cig is more affordable over time than keeping up a heavy smoking habit, the initial cost makes it undesirable to young people.

    Long story short, I see electronic cigarettes as a great way to assist existing smokers in reducing or eliminating their cigarette habit. As for the youth, there are much cheaper, easier ways for them to get ahold of nicotine than by trying to con their way into getting an e-cigarette. Moreover, e-cigarettes just aren’t that desirable to the youth. It doesn’t hit on either the “cool” factor or the “rebellious” factor that drive them towards regular cigarettes.

    I am not in business for e-cig or any similar companies, just an extraordinarily happy customer who has been smoke-free for several years now due to e-cigarettes. I have spent a good deal of time researching both regular and electronic cigarettes, and I’m convinced that e-cigarettes are a great product that can help existing smokers kick their bad habit. It worked for me and all of my friends who have given it a try. I also don’t believe they have the capacity to cause addiction in non-smokers. I certainly wouldn’t recommend them to non-smokers, but based on the available evidence, nicotine by itself is not terribly addictive. I honestly don’t see e-cigarettes as a danger to anyone, youth or otherwise. I see the regulations being proposed by Mr. Nonini and others as an attempt to create an image of being “tough on smoking” while not really making any impact. Additionally, these kinds of regulations aren’t really enforceable without a major effort for a small (if any) reward.

    • Thulium says:

      Great comment, Kia, but I think you understated the nicotine content of cigarettes a bit. It is my understanding that the average nicotine content of commercial cigarettes is 1.63%. As you mention, about 90% of the nicotine in cigarettes is burnt or lost to sidestream smoke, but regardless how much nicotine is contained in a cigarette, most smokers will subconsciously adjust the way they smoke (longer/shorter/more frequent puffs, etc.) to get the amount of nicotine they crave which averages about 1mg per cigarette smoked. Because e-cigarettes are not lit on fire, a cartridge that may contain only about as much nicotine as one cigarette (1ml of 16mg/ml = 1g of 1.6%) can produce enough vapor to replace 10 or more cigarettes.

  • kia says:

    Thank-you for the correction!

    I guess my primary fear over any additional laws over e-cigarettes is that it becomes a slippery slope of one politician trying to stumble over the next to put in the next piece of legislation to protect people from themselves, often under the rationalization that it’s “for the children.” A hundred years ago is when the big push for regulating cigarette sales to minors in the US started. Then cigarette advertisements were severely curtailed. Now cigarettes are banned in most public areas with many private areas being banned too (and there are pushes to prevent smoking in some private homes, apartments, cars, etc).

    The cigarette manufacturers have had the money to fight a lot of this, but e-cigarette manufacturers don’t have that kind of money, and I fear that they could get legislated/regulated out of existence if users (and others who are educated about the products) don’t keep a good eye on what is happening and make a stand. Because we don’t want e-cigarettes to be subject to all the same kinds of laws as regular cigarettes. The fact that we can use them pretty much anywhere is a big reason why people transition to e-cigs and often successfully stop smoking. I think we need to do what we can to keep people from panicking and putting e-cigs under all the same rules as cigarettes. That’s just going to prevent more people from successfully making the switch.

    Banning the sale to minors is a small thing, and one that most (all?) e-cig retailers already do voluntarily. I just hope it doesn’t lead to further regulation of e-cigs that could give them as much of a stigma as regular cigarettes pretty much solely under the rationalization that they look very much like the real thing and can deliver nicotine. We’ve got to be careful.



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