Protecting minors in Texas from the potential dangers of electronic cigarettes

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teen smokingElectronic cigarettes (aka “e-cigs” or “vape” devices) have steadily grown in popularity throughout the nation since their introduction into the market in 2007, and Texas is no exception. More alarming are the increased rates of e-cigarette use by youths, especially when one considers the known adverse effects nicotine and potentially other substances in these devices may have on a child’s health.

Furthermore, not only have studies suggested that smoking e-cigarettes encourages minors to start smoking more hazardous tobacco products, but this vulnerable population is also more prone to adverse reactions from these devices. Both local and national studies have shown that calls to poison control centers for liquid nicotine exposures have been on a steady rise for the past several years, with a large proportion of those affected being younger children.

washington post 2013 2014 ecig useGiven their prevalent use and potential harm to children, there is no question that regulation to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors is needed, a notion even “pro-vape” organizations can get behind. Recent legislation limiting the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes is a commendable start, but by itself may not be completely effective. So, what else should be done?

The American Academy of Pediatrics and other prominent healthcare organizations have suggested increasing taxes on e-cigarette sales as a means to curb use—an intervention that should seriously be considered as this was quite effective at reducing tobacco use in minors when implemented in the past. As a more moderate intervention when compared to others (e.g., banning e-cigarette use altogether), it also may have a better chance of being accepted by the “pro-vape” contingent.

Our next step then, is to contact our state legislature and encourage them to pass such policy—it’s the least we can do to try and ensure the health and safety of our children.

** Pictures courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk and the Washington Post **

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