ATLANTA — It is against the law in Georgia to sell or distribute any electronic cigarette to a person who is under 18 years old. The Georgia Department of Public Health is urging caution about the use and exposure of children to electronic nicotine delivery systems, including electronic cigarettes and other emissions-producing products.
DPH is asking adults to warn children and young adults of the dangers of electronic nicotine delivery systems, sometimes referred to as “e-cigarettes,” “vape pens,” and “e-hookahs,” and to keep these products out of the reach of young children. Emissions from electronic nicotine delivery products may include formaldehyde, propylene glycol, acetaldehyde, acrolein, lead, and tobacco-specific nitrosamines in addition to nicotine.
“These chemicals are toxic, and are particularly dangerous for children,” said Jean O’Connor, director of health promotion and disease prevention for DPH. “Parents should not allow children to handle electronic cigarettes or similar devices. They contain liquid chemicals which, if swallowed, could cause serious health complications.”
During the past five years in Georgia (April 2009-April 2014), there were a total of 1,169 calls made to the Georgia Poison Center (GPC) for exposures or poisonings from products containing tobacco or nicotine. Between Jan. 1 and June 14, 2014, the number of calls made to GPC about nicotine poisonings, specifically from e-cigarettes, was 46. In 2011, there were a total of five calls for the entire year.
Parents, teachers, counselors, and other youth leaders should be aware electronic cigarettes and similar electronic nicotine delivery devices are available in a variety of colors and flavors that are attractive to children and young adults, such as bubble gum, strawberry and chocolate. The products are made to look like pens and other small objects that can be hidden in backpacks and clothes. The emissions, although potentially toxic, may smell like the flavoring.
There is no evidence that using current electronic nicotine delivery systems or being exposed to these products is safe, and the research suggests that these products may introduce children to lifelong nicotine and tobacco addiction. Tobacco use is known to cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical that causes hardening of the arteries, which is associated with heart attack and stroke. Pregnant women should avoid using or being exposed to electronic nicotine. It can impact fetal development, affecting the brain, nerves and circulatory systems.
Electronic cigarettes and similar electronic nicotine delivery devices have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as tobacco cessation devices. The only current safe and effective tools to quit nicotine and tobacco products are approved nicotine replacement therapy products, which contain controlled doses of nicotine. The manufacturing of electronic nicotine delivery systems is currently not regulated by any state or federal agency. Consequently, consumers are cautioned they may be exposed to varying levels of chemicals and contaminants in these products.
Most people who use tobacco or nicotine and want to quit are unable to end their nicotine addiction without help. Anyone, including teenagers, who need help quitting tobacco or nicotine, can contact the Georgia Tobacco Quitline:
English: 1-877-270-STOP (877-270-7867)
Spanish: 1-877-2NO-FUME (877-266-3863)
Hearing impaired: 1-877-777-6534
The Quitline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.