Friday, May 9, 2014

Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe For Your Baby

It’s common knowledge that smoking is lethal not only for the one puffing away on a cigarette, but also those who inhabit the smoker’s immediate surroundings. Second-hand smoke is dangerous, and especially so for children. Have a look at these statistics:

  • The WHO second-hand smoke Fact File suggests that as many as 40% children are exposed to second-hand smoke at home on a regular basis.

  • It is also stated that 31% of deaths because of second-hand smoke occur in children.

  • A 1997 study published in Thorax found that in households where both parents smoke, children have a 72% increased risk of respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis, pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

Here are some of the harmful effects of smoking around your babies:
·      Babies’ bodies are still under development – they have weaker organs and an even more delicate immune system. Their lungs are small and they breathe faster than adults - they take in more secondhand smoke within the same duration when compared with full grown adults. Breathing in cigarette smoke puts your baby at higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
·      Some studies have suggested that secondhand smoke also causes learning and behavioral challenges in children.
·      You also end up putting your baby at risk for respiratory disorders like asthma, bronchitis and even pneumonia.
·      Babies exposed to secondhand smoke are also more prone to developing infections in their middle ear as the smoke causes irritation and swelling in this part of the body.
·      Even if you don’t smoke in your baby’s presence, your baby still manages to ingest toxic chemicals that remain on your skin, clothes, or even what lingers on your furniture.

This just reiterates that smoking around infants and children is a complete no-no. If you’re an E-cigarette smoker aiming for smoking cessation, you’re now wondering if Electronic Cigarettes are safe for your baby.

Read on and find out. 

The Good

In terms of chemical composition, Electronic Cigarettes are entirely different from regular tobacco cigarettes. While regular cigarette smoke is known to contain over 4,800 chemicals of which at least 69 are cancer causing (American Lung Association statistics), E-cigarettes are significantly different.

Interestingly, E-cigarettes do not produce smoke at all. They emit a vapor that contains small amounts of flavoring, nicotine (in some varieties), propylene glycol and water. Thus, E-cigarette emissions are significantly less harmful for second-hand exposure as compared to conventional cigarette smoke.

In fact, a recent study by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute which examined the vapors from 12 brands of E-cigarettes found their vapors to have a level of toxicants 9-450 times lower than in cigarette smoke.

The Bad

The flipside to this argument is that all said and done, Electronic cigarettes do contain certain carcinogens and toxicants whose potential for harm is yet undetermined.

In fact, the 2009 FDA analysis of E-cigarettes only reinforces that there is variance in the product composition offered by various brands and how despite these differences, all types of E-cigarettes were found to carry some substances toxic to human beings.

Also, a recent study by the German Cancer Research Center confirmed that E-cigarettes contain ultra-fine chemical substances that can penetrate deep into the lungs. These substances, though produced in significantly lesser amounts as compared to tobacco cigarettes can settle in an indoor environment and be inhaled by non-users.

The question that then arises is, are Electric Cigarettes safe for you to smoke around your baby?

The Verdict

While there is no clarity over the health implications of E-cigarette usage and second-hand exposure to the vapors thus emitted. There are two primary reasons for the existence of such ambiguities:

  • E-cigarettes are a recent invention. Their composition and production is being studied, analyzed and improved, even as we speak. In these initial stages, it is understandable that they are not optimally conducive to perfect health or even smoking cessation.

  • E-cigarettes are ultimately substitutes for smoking and thus have addictive potential as well. No wonder people and health agencies are suspicious of such a substance.

What you then need to acknowledge is that E-cigarettes are not completely harmless, either to the smoker or those in his surroundings. However, exposure to tobacco cigarettes is worse than that to E-cigarettes.

A 2011 study by the Boston University School of Public Health, published in the Journal Of Public Health Policy, concluded that “electronic cigarettes are a much safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes” based on a review of 16 laboratory studies of the product.
At the end of the day, no matter how dependent you may be on your cigarettes, you know that it’s doing no good to anyone. Even if you feel fine today, you know you have a better chance to remain healthy if you get over this addiction of yours.

As a responsible parent, it’s better for you to quit smoking altogether than to compromise the health of your children. It’s better not just for their physical and mental development, but kicking the butt will also leave you feeling far more energized to spend more time with your kids.

Links to Studies Used:


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