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Vaping exposure among youngsters a concern in North Carolina
Children most at risk to e-cigarette residue
Published Saturday, September 21, 2019 1:00 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

North Carolina Poison Control has handled nearly 150 exposures to e-cigarette products such as vaping pens (left) in 2019, with half the people exposed children 5 years and under.

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The health impact on young North Carolinians who smoke electronic cigarettes is a growing concern.

North Carolina Poison Control has handled nearly 150 exposures to e-cigarette products this year, with half of the people exposed children 5 and under. Children become exposed to e-cigarette products when they taste or swallow e-liquid, get it on their skin or in their eyes, or breathe in aerosol from an e-cigarette.

“The problem for children is that most e-liquid contains nicotine, and nicotine in very small amounts is dangerous, even life-threatening, for children,” said NCPC Medical Director Dr. Michael Beuhler. “Kids like to imitate their parents’ behavior, and the e-liquid is usually colorful and pleasant smelling.”
Electronic cigarettes look like a USB flash drive and are easy to mistake as such.

NCPC advises the amount of nicotine in e-liquid varies by product. The agency recommends the following to prevent exposing children to e-cigarettes:

• Store e-cigarette products (the e-liquid and the device) where they can’t see or reach.

• Understand that e-liquid can have a very large amount of nicotine in a small amount of fluid.

• Tell children e-cigarettes are off-limits to them.

• Ask guests to store e-cigarette products away from children during visits.

North Carolina Poison Control has phone or online assistance with suspected poisonings or questions about poisons by calling 1- 800-222-1222 or going to www.NCPoisonControl.org.

While cigarette smoking rates have reached historic lows (down to 8% among Mecklenburg County high students), e-cigarette use or vaping has increased to 20%, with as many as 40%  of young people reporting experimenting with vaping, according to the 2017 North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey. Middle school students say they use them because a friend or family member does, while high schoolers report it’s because of the variety of flavors.

The risks of vaping are many, such as: 

•  Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can harm brain development, affect learning, memory and attention, and increase the risk for future drug addictions.

•  Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to use regular cigarettes.

•  E-cigarette aerosol can contain harmful substances in addition to nicotine like cancer-causing chemicals and flavorings that have been linked to lung disease.

•  No one knows what the long-term consequences of the products are. 

• If an exposure to an e-cigarette product occurs, contact N.C. Poison Control toll free at (800) 222-1222 or online at (www.NCPoisonControl.org) to find out if the amount ingested, inhaled, or absorbed is dangerous and what should be done about it.

Public Health has tools for parents and educators and offers training for schools, community organizations and health professionals, in addition to promoting tobacco prevention curriculum integration in the schools and peer education initiatives.

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