Crime Watch

Crime Watch: Reader is horrified by the dangers of e-cigarettes


Special to The Miami Herald

One of my readers forwarded this information to me regarding e-cigarettes, since she was dealing with her own kids. Much has been said and there are lots of issues — especially with our youth — and she wanted me to share with you.

Dear Carmen:

As a retired teacher I need to share with you some information I have put together for your readers regarding e-cigarettes — they are transforming the national debate over tobacco smoking, and that conversation has been extended to marijuana smoking, as well. Billed as a safer, cleaner way to get a nicotine fix, electronic cigarettes are surging in popularity and more teens are trying these products. According to the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that recent e-cigarette use nearly doubled in one year among U.S. high school students, rising from 1.5% in 2011 to 2.8% smoking them in 2012.

Doctors and researchers say these smoking substitutes are far from harmless — especially to children. Anyone who uses (or “vapes”) an e-cigarette is still putting harmful and addictive nicotine into their system. Additionally, the liquid nicotine used in the devices, which comes in flavors such as bubblegum and cola, is being blamed for a growing number of poisonings across the nation.

This liquid form of nicotine in e-cigarettes is extracted from tobacco, with an addition of flavorings, colorings and assorted chemicals. Like e-cigarettes, e-liquids are not regulated by federal authorities, although there are hearings in Congress regarding these e-cigarettes and what if anything FDA is going to do as to regulations regarding children. Toxicologists warn that e-liquids pose a significant health risk, particularly to children, who may be drawn to their neon-bright colors and fragrant flavorings like cherry, chocolate and bubble gum. Many of these come with warning labels “Must be 18 years or older to purchase, contains nicotine.” Unfortunately Carmen, this does not stop teenager from obtaining this product. As in my case I used them to stop smoking; little did I realize that my own teenager was using it for her friends to use pot.

Nationwide, there has been a surge in the number of calls to poison control centers. The number of cases linked to e-liquids jumped to 1,351 in 2013, a 300 percent increase from 2012, and the number is on pace to double this year, according to information I got from the National Poison Control Data System.

Thank you, Carmen, for sharing this information with your readers. As a parent I am horrified by the dangers this product can do our kids and I see no one addressing this issue. Hope your readers that use this product will be extremely careful and vigilant with their children. Again, thank you for your column and all the important crime prevention and issues that you address on a weekly base.

Angela Murray, retired teacher, Jacksonville

Readers, I believe that here in Miami-Dade our School Board and county commission have been dealing with this issue to safeguard our children. I will follow up next week as to what actually is being done or how it’s being addressed.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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