Although we currently know very little about the dangers of using e-cigarettes, one important piece of information is that they are not safe to use around your baby and the main problem is that e-cigarettes are still unregulated.
What Is An E-Cigarette?
An electronic cigarette is a small battery-operated device that looks like a real cigarette. They are designed to mimic the smoking experience without burning tobacco. They have an appearance of flashlights, or even fountain pens, but have a big clear chamber for storing liquid. The e-cigarette does not use tobacco, instead, it vaporizes the so-called e-liquid, which is then inhaled. It is made up of three parts: an inhale cartridge that holds the liquid, a vaporizer that heats the liquid into vapour and the battery that powers the e-cigarette.
Users don’t inhale the same levels of tar that they would when smoking a conventional cigarette, but they are far from being a healthy alternative to smoking. It is still difficult to know exactly what you ingest when you use e-cigarettes, because it is a fairly new product.
Experts believe that the water emitted from e-cigarettes could cause harm and if a user is at all unsure about the vapour they are inhaling, they should certainly be cautious about the air they are breathing out around their children.
The liquid used in e-cigarettes is typically made up of glycerine, nicotine, propylene glycol and flavouring chemicals. Research shows that when this liquid is heated, it produces other chemicals, which go straight into the lungs when inhaled, and could potentially be the cause of cancer in years to some. As you continue to use e-cigarettes there are traces of nicotine in your breath that may cause your blood vessels to narrow. This will result in less effective breathing, however it is difficult to determine if the same effect happens to a child when they breathe in airborne vapours. The propylene glycol in e-liquid may also irritate the lungs and therefore make breathing difficult.
Second-Hand Nicotine Exposure
Because e-cigarettes are still a relatively new product, there isn’t much research looking at how second-hand nicotine exposure from an e-cigarette affects your baby. Although, there is plenty of data that shows second-hand nicotine exposure can harm a child’s health. Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke can become sick with colds, pneumonia, breathing problems and ear infections.
Both children and adults may experience the poisonous effects from being in contact with too much nicotine e-liquid. When refilling your device, be sure not to get any solution on the skin and when you need to throw the cartridge away follow the disposal instructions on the product label. That way the nicotine solution won’t end up where children can get them.
Parents may well choose e-cigarettes as a cessation method, but there is little evidence to suggest that it helps quit smoking tobacco. They are often advertised as a safer alternative, but haven’t yet been scientifically proven to help quit smoking for good. E-cigarettes are marketed with flavours like chocolate and strawberry and unfortunately this may encourage non-smokers, especially teenage children, to start smoking.
What Can Parents Do?
One thing that parents should be careful of is to ensure that they store their e-cigarettes securely, in a place that children can’t find them, in order to prevent their child from accidentally ingest anything nasty. A study shows that children exposed to e-cigarettes are 5.2 times more likely to be admitted to hospital than those who aren’t.
Having said that, it is important for e-cigarettes to be regulated in the same way that ‘real’ cigarettes are, including restriction of sales by age, by adding warning labels to packaging and increased smoke-free laws to protect people from second-hand exposure.