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Two Things We Know About E-Cigarettes

Published on 10 July 2015

Yesterday, I looked at five things we still don’t know about e-cigarettes. Today, I’ll tell you what we do know about the devices.

Teens are using e-cigarettes more than ever before.

More teens are using e-cigarettes than ever before. Two million teenagers used one at least once in 2014. Before these devices came along, teenagers would smoke once in a while and some would end up being long-term smokers. Now, we don’t know if e-cigarettes will operate as a gateway device to traditional cigarettes or if teens will use e-cigarettes long-term.

Calls to poison control skyrocket.

In September 2010, there was an average of one e-cigarette-related call per month to poison control centers across the country. In February 2014, poison control centers were averaging 215 calls a month. The most frequent calls were for children under the age of 6. These devices have no childproofing on them, and children’s natural curiosity can make them sick.

Bonus

I would like other health care providers to include e-cigarette use in the standard screening questionnaire that asks patients about family history, medication use, alcohol consumption, and smoking. The health care provider or the patient may not think of e-cigarette use as smoking. Patients may have preconceived notions about the safety of the devices based on marketing materials they read. It’s up to us as health care providers to make sure we have a complete picture of a patient’s health in order to provide the optimum treatment.

About the author: Goldie Peters, Pharm.D., BCPS, is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice, at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. He regularly lectures about smoking cessation.

Photo credit: Different types of electronic cigarettes via photopin (license)

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