Q. My husband is a smoker and we are expecting our first baby in a few months. He is having a difficult time kicking the habit and has asked whether e-cigarettes are a safe alternative. Is second-hand smoke from an e-cigarette dangerous?
A. An electronic cigarette is a device that looks like a traditional cigarette but works by creating a nicotine mist that is inhaled. Many e-cigarette manufacturers are marketing these as safe alternatives to cigarettes; however, the public should be aware that this assertion is presumptuous at best.
To begin by stating the obvious, nicotine is an addictive drug regardless of the route by which it enters a persons body. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to develop this same habit. So the best gift an expectant parent with a nicotine addiction could give to his or her baby is to stop smoking.
Although e-cigarettes do not smell like tobacco, no one knows the effects of their secondhand smoke. In 2009, the FDA tested e-cigarettes from two leading manufacturers and found detectable levels of toxins and carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), including diethylene glycol and nitrosamines, in their cartridges.
Another concern is the risk of nicotine ingestion. A nicotine cartridge for an e-cigarette contains up to 20mg of nicotine. This exceeds the estimated fatal dose of nicotine for a child. Refill bottles for the cartridges contain up to 7 grams of nicotine. Ingesting four drops of refill solution could be fatal for a child.
Since their introduction to the market in 2007, e-cigarettes are gaining popularity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, twice as many teens tried e-cigarettes in 2012 compared to 2011. They are sold in flavors such as gummy bears and vanilla.
Rhonda Patt is a pediatrician with Charlotte Pediatric Clinic. Email firstname.lastname@example.org; put pediatrician, in the subject line.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less