Electronic cigarettes – is your child at risk?

By: Shalini Forbis, MD

Electronic cigarette (e-cigs) use is on the rise.  They are being touted as an aid in stopping cigarette smoking.  They are also preferred because there is no cigarette smoke or the many other cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco products including cigarettes, etc.

However, in September, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a statement that use of e-cigs had doubled from 2011- 2012.  This included a rise from 4.7% to 10% of teenagers who had tried an electronic cigarette and recent use had doubled. In addition, use among middle school children had also doubled.  1.78 million teens and preteens tried e-cigs in 2012.  The release goes on to state that over 90% of smokers start smoking in their teenage years.

So, teens are trying e-cigarettes.  Is this really a big deal?  You don’t have to deal with the cigarette smoke and all the added carcinogens.  Although this is true, the main ingredient in e-cigarettes is nicotine.

Nicotine has been linked to:

–         Nicotine addiction, intoxication

–         Blood vessel disease, including the arteries of your heart

–         Increased risk of stroke

–         High blood pressure and its complications

–         Delayed wound healing

–         Peptic Ulcer disease

–         Esophageal reflux

–         Reproductive problems, spontaneous abortions, prematurity

Although many of the harmful effects of tobacco products are avoided by e-cigs there are still some major side effects to nicotine.  This, coupled with the potential to develop nicotine addiction from this product should keep parents alert to these products and to include discussion of them when discussing tobacco use with preteens and teens.

Here are links to details on the information above:



Dr. Forbis a pediatrician in the Children’s Health Clinic at Dayton Children’s and a mother to two girls. As part of the “Dr. Mom Sqaud,” Dr. Forbis blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Forbis.


  1. Reply
    Tera Fernandez February 16, 2014

    Thank you for bringing this to public attention. Just because of the glorification it gains popularity. Its still dangerous.

  2. Reply
    scoots February 27, 2014

    I wanted to make you aware the main ingredient in the e cigarette liquid is most certainly NOT nicotine. In fact, 26% is the highest level i’ve seen, And the majority of products hover around the 12% range. The main ingredients in e liquid is propyl glycol and vegitable glycol, varying from 100% PG, 50/50 PG VG, to 100% vg. (percentages are in relation to eachother, acting as the main catalyst for flavoring and nicotine, nicotine percentage is based on the percentage of nicotine to the PG/VG mix) Both of those ingredients (PG&VG) have been studied and found to have no measureable positive or negative effect on your health. Furthermore there are zero nicotine e liquids out there. Making those products more “safe” than drinking the water from the faucet in your kitchen. Please amend your phrase stating that nicotine is the main ingredient in ecig liquids, because that is very much not true. Try to look more objectively than the usual “its an e CIGARETTE, so it must be a bad thing” attitude toward them. This article title and verbage makes it sound like this is a problem a bad thing that needs our attention. By making the statement “1.78 million teens/preteens have tried ecigs followed immediately by 90% of smokers start in their teens” is misleading. It gives the less informed reader the impression that the 1.78 million kids are most likely going to start smoking regular cigarettes. When it is fact that teen tobacco use has been and continues to decline. A more pertinant statistic would have been how many of those 1.78 actually use ecigs regularly. And since you alluded to a connection, how many of those 1.78 milion go on to smoke regular cigs. If you get those statistics, im sure youll get a much better picture of wether or not theres actually a problem worth writing/worrying about. I do not want to criticise, but you need to choose your wording a little better, as this article seems to suggest a tastey e cig is just bait for getting kids to smoke regular cigarettes. Its like saying a kid that tries pot is likely to do try meth. Because theyre related in delivery method to the body.

    • Reply
      scoots February 27, 2014

      Id like to clarify something. When I mentioned that “there are zero nicotine e liquids” I mean that there are e liquids that do not contain any nicotine at all. I did not want it to sound like I think that there are no e liquids that contain nicotine.

  3. Reply
    Kane March 22, 2014

    I agree 100%

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