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This question was inspired by a question about pregnancy and exposure to the second hand products of the smoking device known as e cigarettes.

My child has a "friend" we work with at the theater that is a teenager (17) who has taken up smoking e-cigarettes. He does it because he considers them safe, he can practice blowing smoke rings (like Gandalf) and its the "latest and greatest" in being cool and new.

His mom cares, but figures the boy is too old to be able to make an issue of it since he is almost officially an adult, but he does live with her still.

So, while it isn't currently an "issue" for my household, I am curious what others would do. What persuasive information is there one way or the other that could be used with a teen and would it be wise to "lay down the law" about something like this in such a case as this?

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Tough problem. There isn't really a lot she can do. If he has access to money through a job, it might be legal for her to remove that money from him, or to prevent him from holding a job to earn the money. But we can soon leave and do what he likes, and she might not want to have this fight be the basis of their future relationship. "Not in the House" might be the best ground for her to make a stand on. – Marc Mar 1 '14 at 16:30

Contrary to what your kid's friend says, e-cigarettes are not safe. You are still inhaling nicotine, meaning that you are still susceptible to many of the adverse effects of regular cigarettes, i.e., addiction, cardiovascular problems, increased risk of cancer, increased risk of birth defects if you use them while pregnant, and so on. In fact, liquid nicotine, the active component of e-cigarettes, has been historically used as poison in assassinations: if you coat the blade of a small knife in liquid nicotine, even a small cut can be lethal, as a mere 60mg (about .002 ounces, about the amount you can fit in a couple of drops) are enough to kill an average human being.

Of course, 17 year-old kids think they are invincible, but it won't hurt to make sure your kid knows about this. If your kid is male, you can also drop the fact that nicotine is known to cause erectile disfunction. I don't know if this still true, but when I was 17, impotence was way more worrying than other, actually more serious health problems.

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So funny, I used to tell my eighth grade health class about how extra cilia grows on the tongue at the back of the mouth if you smoke (regular cigarettes) long enough. "Who wants to kiss a hairy mouth?" had what is probably a fairly similar effect. I'd love references, because that would mean I could pass the info along to his mom quite easily. – balanced mama Mar 3 '14 at 5:40
"has been historically used as poison" - The dose makes the poison – AakashM Mar 7 '14 at 16:02
* Wong HP, Yu L, Lam EK, Tai EK, Wu WK, Cho CH (June 2007). "Nicotine promotes colon tumor growth and angiogenesis through beta-adrenergic activation". Toxicol. Sci. 97 (2): 279–87 – Koldito Mar 12 '14 at 8:32
* Natori T, Sata M, Washida M, Hirata Y, Nagai R, Makuuchi M (October 2003). "Nicotine enhances neovascularization and promotes tumor growth". Mol. Cells 16 (2): 143–6. – Koldito Mar 12 '14 at 8:33
Davis R, Rizwani W, Banerjee S, et al. (2009). "Nicotine promotes tumor growth and metastasis in mouse models of lung cancer". In Pao, William. PLoS ONE 4 (10): e7524. And many more like these – Koldito Mar 12 '14 at 8:35

This is a particularly tough problem because it has not been conclusively proven whether or not e-cigarettes are safe or not. It's possible that consuming just nicotine is an acceptable level of health risk like occasional drinking and not an immediate chunk off your life like cigarettes. It's too new a product for the evidence to be conclusive.

Speaking as a college kid, not a parent, I would use it to teach rational thinking and measured assessment of risk, as well as good financial practices. Do research with your kid (actual research, not health-scare-of-the-week dreck) and talk to them about how much it costs and ask them if they would rather spend their money on something else. Don't immediately ban it, talk them through figuring out whether something is safe and desirable for them or not. Emphasize the unpleasant lack of control that is addiction.

More pointedly, e-cigarette cartridges come in zero nicotine. If her primary motivation is protecting her son from health risks, she could push for or subsidize him switching to no-nicotine, and he could still practice blowing smoke rings.

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Money is an excellent factor to focus on. And +1 for the zero nicotine carts in response to the smoke rings. – Pharap Mar 19 '15 at 10:34

Is it better that he is 'vaping' (smoking requires burning) an e-cig or smoking a real cig as many kids have done in previous generations.

Caffine is as addictive and as bad for you as small amounts of nicotine yet is socially acceptable and consumed daily by 99% of the population.

If you are really concerned then maybe you should try to presenting some facts about the dangers of vaping to him.

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Welcome to Parenting.SE. Your first couple of sentences are not really answering the question that was asked and it's sort of coming across as a rant, not an Answer. Could you elaborate more on what the OP wanted to talk about? – Erica Mar 19 '15 at 2:15

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