From Pacifiers to E-Cigarettes

From Pacifiers to E-Cigarettes
Dr. Armen Ketchedjian Anesthesiologist Sharon, Connecticut

Dr. Armen Ketchedjian is an anesthesiologist practicing in Boca Raton, Florida. Dr. Ketchedjian ensures the safety of patients who are about to undergo surgery. Anestesiologists specialize in general anesthesia, which will (put the patient to sleep), sedation, which will calm the patient or make him or her unaware of the... more

We are creatures of habit from the moment we are born. It seems that the hand is a constant presence in the mouth of an infant exploring a new found environment, eventually graduating to a thumb-sucking toddler. Some harmless actions can lead to unsanitary, unhealthy, even hazardous activities that involve the hand to mouth habit. A few industries capitalize on this human behavior. So why would a company flavor its products to taste like fruit, cotton candy, chocolate or even bubble gum? To keep the habit going, develop a client base, and ensure future sales.

The unfortunate targets that sit innocently in the cross hairs of this marketing strategy are our children. Our children that do not give a second thought about bringing their hands to their mouth to lick a dollop of frosting, or bite on a nail or chew at end of a pencil. How much of a leap is it to have a child become accustomed to one of these harmless-looking pencil-like devices that emit a sweet-flavored vapor?

The construction and function of the device is simple. It looks like a pen or cigarette. It has a reservoir for solvent, a battery and an atomizer. A button or the mere action of air movement from inhaling through the device activates the battery which aerosols the liquid into a smoke-looking vapor. 

The problem is that these innocuous looking devices proliferate quickly in school yards, parties and at home. The companies that produce these modern day marvels tout the harmless aspects of food grade "Flavors" and reduced tar and smoke compared to their tobacco rivals. They are right in one aspect; there is no scent of the telltale smoke. The remainder is all left to speculation. There is no metered dose release of the extremely addictive nicotine. Nicotine has been described as one of the most addictive substances. Without metered dosing, it is conceivable for a person to receive as much if not more nicotine when vaporizing or vaping among other chemicals that have questionable and potentially hazardous profiles in vapor form. There is no conclusive evidence to show either safety or degree of harm in the accompanying ingredients.

The accompanying ingredients include but not limited to vanillin, benzaldehyde, nitrosamines, polycyclic hydrocarbon, creosote, tobacco alkaloids, and other ingredients that may or may not be disclosed. The ingredients can vary as well as quantity from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Vanillin is the chief compound for creating the scent and flavor to vanilla. There are currently no known hazards to this ingredient. Benzaldehyde is the main compound for giving the scent and flavor of almonds. It has properties as an irritant when inhaled. Nitrosamines are used in the manufacturing of rubber, pesticides, and certain cosmetics. They have shown an increased risk of causing liver and other cancers in laboratory animals. Polycyclic hydrocarbons are a nasty component used to make paint dyes and pesticides. It comes from incomplete burning of organic substances such as coal tar, creosote or petroleum. It is a hazardous environmental pollutant that can cause various kinds of cancers due to its ability to cause mutation and teratogenic to cells upon contact in laboratory animals according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Creosote is derived from wood or tar and is used for industry with limited use in medicine as an expectorant or astringent.

Aside from nicotine, tobacco alkaloids include, nornicotine, anabasine, anatabine, cotinine, and myosmine. These chemicals are derived from tobacco. A few are used in the synthesis of pesticides and other industrial uses.