Vaping, e-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes have become massively popular in the UK with Ash.org.uk citing that over 2.6 million British people are vaping as an alternative to smoking traditional tobacco. The chances are either you or someone else vapes in your home, or at some stage, you and your child will come into contact with someone who vapes and the devices and liquid used to vape. While the debate is rolling on about their safety as an alternative to traditional smoking for adults, there is little doubt in my mind that vaping, vapor and the paraphernalia associated with vaping are a real hazard around young children. I’m setting out in today’s blog to highlight the dangers that may be present for children exposed to vaping and electronic cigarettes.
The first known case of child fatality as a result of nicotine poisoning from nicotine liquid occurred in 2014 in New York, USA after a 1-year-old tragically drank the contents of a nicotine refill bottle. The number of people including toddlers, who have been poisoned by swallowing nicotine liquid has risen drastically in the UK since 2013. The National Poisons Unit UK claimed that over a third of all the calls regarding nicotine poisoning from e-liquid involved young children.
It’s vitally important to keep e-liquids locked away safe when there are young children around. While almost all e-liquid bottles have child proof caps, it can be relatively easy to replace a cap without locking the top back in. Nicotine liquids come in a variety of flavors, some sweet such as blueberry, ice-cream or candy. Their smell can be quite strong and young children could easily be attracted to the bottle if left lying around.
Signs of nicotine poisoning in a child could include:
- Your child feels sick or is vomiting.
- Your child becomes pale.
- Sweating or drooling.
- The child has a raised pulse rate.
- If a large amount is ingested it could result in a seizure or passing out.
If you suspect your child has ingested nicotine call the National Poisons Information Service UK by dialing 111, visit http://www.npis.org/ for further details.
A study conducted in 2015 suggest that vapor from e-cigarettes produce harmful chemicals, similar to those found in traditional tobacco, and have the potential to harm the lungs and immune system. The study was conducted on mice and the study indicated that they suffered mild lung damage and became more susceptible to infections. The study also detected free radicals (damaging toxins) albeit at 1 % of the levels found in traditional tobacco.
I could wade into the whole debate on vape second-hand smoke vs. tobacco smoke here. It’s obvious from the many studies that what we know so far about vapor, it is far safer than tobacco smoke. While I would be willing to take that chance as a smoker, it’s not something I’m willing to bet on with my kids!
It’s important with this in mind to treat vaping in terms of second-hand smoke in the same way as you would traditional tobacco around young children and children in general. A no smoking house is the best approach in my opinion. People who vape may find this difficult to swallow, as many will defend the honor of vaping vehemently!
Apart from the toxicity of e-liquid itself as a danger to your young child, parents should be mindful of the components of the devices used to vape. There are many different types of electronic cigarettes and apart from the disposable kind found in most shops, almost all of them have replacement parts and removable components small enough to choke on. Refill cartridges, replacement coils, tips and even batteries - anyone who is a habitual "Vaper" could have these lying around. Anything that is over 1 ¾ inches in diameter is said to present a choking hazard to young children. A toilet roll test (the inner tube is normally 1 ¾ cm) is a handy way of gauging this, but if there is someone who vapes in your home its best to keep the paraphernalia under lock and key.