My middle schooler says many of her classmates use e-cigarettes. How safe are they?
E- Cigarettes i.e. “Vape Pens” are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine and a variety of additives in vapor form. Nicotine delivered in e-cigarettes is addictive just as in regular cigarettes. These were originally promoted as a safer alternative to cigarettes and a tool to help cease smoking with the ability to control, via refillable cartridges, the amount of nicotine delivered. There is not enough research to determine their safety. The effects of using e-cigarettes are similar to traditional cigarettes: elevated heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, feelings of pleasure and relaxation and long term effects are still to be determined. E-cigarettes have increasingly received criticism because they are produced in flavors like ‘gummy bear’ which seemingly target children. It is very important to remember that most of the $1.5 billion dollars in e-cigarette sales go unregulated by the FDA because they lack the authority. Only e-cigarettes that are marketed for therapeutic purposes are currently regulated by the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). Currently, the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) regulates: traditional cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco. The FDA has issued a proposed rule change that would extend the agency’s tobacco authority to cover additional products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes, pipes, etc. and Congress must approve the change. Have a discussion with your daughter and confirm if she is currently using e-cigarettes. Some e-cigarettes are manufactured in China and may contain many unknown additives.