Second-hand Smoke or Vapor is a Serious Health Hazard for Children

Jun 14, 2024, 12:12 PM by Mary Urbani

Post-Spanking2It is hard to believe that there is a reader that hasn’t heard about nicotine.  Almost everyone knows at some level that nicotine is not good for humans.  Nicotine is in a group of chemicals called alkaloids. When nicotine is extracted from the tobacco leaf it is a clear oily liquid that does turn brown and smells like tobacco.

Interestingly nicotine is found in other plants such as the nightshade plants which include tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes.  Tobacco leaves have the highest concentration of nicotine found in plants.  Inquiring minds would like to know why some plants have nicotine.  It turns out that nicotine is a pesticide!  This helps the plant by discouraging insects from eating its leaves and even large plant-eating animals will get sick from eating too much.  Nicotine has been used as a pesticide for centuries and is still used is some countries.  Nicotine was banned as a pesticide in the US in January 2014.

Nicotine is found in all tobacco products. Nicotine can change the way the brain works, causing cravings for more.  Nicotine makes the brain feel less anxious and think more clearly.  Cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine to the brain within seconds.  Unfortunately some tobacco products contain additives that make it easier for the body to absorb more nicotine. Also unfortunately tobacco companies add nicotine.  Using any tobacco products can lead to nicotine addiction. 

Liquid nicotine used in E-cigarettes has killed children. In December 2014 a 1-year-old child died from liquid nicotine poisoning, the first such death in the US.  Now poison control centers receive thousands of calls each year.  These refills are sold in hundreds of different flavors appealing to children. While it is required that liquid nicotine be sold in childproof containers it is well known that many children can open childproof containers.  The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents who use e-cigarettes to store the products and any refill materials in child-resistant packages and out of their reach.

There are three routes for nicotine exposure that are toxic to children. If put in their mouth, even if not swallowed, it will be absorbed by the mucous membranes.  If swallowed, it will be absorbed by the intestines.  If spilled on their skin, it will be absorbed like a nicotine patch.  The bottles are sold in various sizes, ten to 30 milliliters, and a variety of nicotine strengths.  A teaspoon (5 milliliters) of concentrated liquid can be fatal for the average 26-pound toddler. If anyone thinks a child has been exposed to liquid nicotine, call Poison Control Center, 800-222-1222.

Nicotine is what makes people keep using tobacco products. However, it’s the thousands of chemicals contained in tobacco smoke including secondhand smoke, which make tobacco so deadly.  Some of these chemicals are arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, and cadmium.

Remember that secondhand smoke and vapor is a serious health hazard for nonsmokers, especially children.  Don’t smoke or vape in your home or car.  Educate your children early about the dangers of nicotine.

Dr. Sally Robinson

Keeping KIds Healthy

June 2024


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