According to a recent New York Times article, e-cigarettes are becoming as big a health risk as traditional cigarettes. Battery-powered vaporized nicotine should be considered a form of smoking and subject to existing regulations.

There are two bills before the Maine Legislature addressing e-cigarette smoking, also known as “vaping”: L.D. 423, “An Act to Require Child-resistant Packaging for Products Containing Liquid Nicotine,” and L.D. 1108, “An Act to Protect Children and the Public from Electronic Cigarette Vapor.”

Portland (Oregon) State University researcher David Peyton has found that a form of formaldehyde appears in exhaled vapor at higher levels than in regular cigarettes when vaping was done at higher concentration levels. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and exposure contributes to lung cancer.

“When someone introduces a toxin like nicotine into healthy air by using e-cigarettes, they have the burden to show it does not cause harm. When people smoke e-cigarettes in public, it results in a lot of exposure with very little data on safety. It may be less toxic than tobacco smoke, but carbon monoxide is less toxic than cyanide. That doesn’t mean it is OK to breathe,” said Edward Miller, senior vice president at the Lung Association of the Northeast.

MaineHealth pediatrician Steve Feder reports that “exposure to airborne nicotine has been well established as a culprit in pediatric asthma, otitis media (ear infections) and respiratory as well as gastrointestinal ailments in children in addition to increasing the risk of cancer, even in the very young.”

The Maine Academy of Pediatrics is working to regulate the use and increase the awareness of e-cigarettes.

Children exposed to nicotine are more likely to become addicted themselves. And this past December, a New York toddler died from ingesting liquid nicotine, highlighting the insufficient, unsafe packaging.

Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics webite to learn more:

Dee Kerry deHaas

executive director, Maine Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics