Whatever comes to mind: E-cigarettes cause tragedies

Whatever Comes To MindBy George Flynn | Opinions Editor

Smoking is bad; we all know this. Not only is it a disgusting habit that becomes addicting and quickens the aging process, but it also has stolen many lives. According to the American Cancer Society, one in five deaths in the United States is a result of tobacco use. We all know someone or know of someone who has been taken from Earth too early due to some form of cancer that directly correlates with cigarette habits. But are e-cigarettes the smoker’s cure?

For the people who have found it too difficult to quit smoking, an e-cigarette is a great replacement and can make cancer a little less likely, as e-cigarettes contain less nicotine than actual cigarettes, according to the Electronic Cigarette Association. I am not condoning electronic cigarettes, but they had good intentions involving decreasing health risks.

However, things went awry.  A 4-year-old boy from Oklahoma got into his mother’s e-cigarette stash and drank a multitude of bottles, according to Vice.

“He was vomiting and had to be hospitalized, becoming the latest statistic in an apparent influx of e-juice poisonings. He recovered fully,” the article said. The usage of the phrase “latest statistic” is quite frightening.

A New York Times article that was published March 23 conveys statistics of health issues related to the e-juice used for electronic cigarettes. These statistics show an overwhelming number of people affected by the issue, and unfortunately the numbers will only continue to rise.

“Nationwide, 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 from the National Poison Data System,” the article said.

If 1,351 cases are able to jump to nearly 3,000 by the end of 2014, then this is definitely a problem worth discussing. Are e-cigarettes the best idea for society? Are we responsible as human beings to have such a privilege that is tied with health risks? The answer is unclear.

According to the same NYT article, a 2-year-old girl was rushed to a hospital for the same reason the little boy in Oklahoma was last month. This occurrence is happening probably more than anyone realizes.

Rather than answer the larger questions, let’s hone in. Is having this e-juice in private family homes a good idea? Should it be a privilege or should there be restrictions on such things?

According to the Oklahoma boy’s mother, she walked into the room and saw him covered in the volatile liquid and consuming them by the bottles.

“I hear a little bit of a noise, come in, and he’s taken the lid off of all of them and has this liquid everywhere. He’s got it all over him. He’s been eating it,” she said.

The Vice article offers a simple solution to such problems: making your family home childproof. Parents do it all the time: electric sockets are covered with plastic so young children don’t get electrocuted. Toilet seats are baby proofed so babies don’t make a mess, or worse, fall in and accidentally drown.

An e-cigarette user should keep the bottles in an easily hidden place and out of reach from small children? If they do not, then maybe they don’t deserve the privilege to smoke e-cigarettes.  In my opinion, e-cigarettes and e-juice should be regulated and should probably come with a manual with words such as “Keep away from small children,” and “Don’t consume poisonous liquid.”

All in all, these statistics with e-cigarettes should not double by the end of the year. People should become more responsible with their volatile habits. Keep e-juice and other deadly things away from children. E-juice and e-cigarettes should only be used by those of age, and should be protected from those who are not of age or too young to know the difference between nutrients and poison.

George Flynn is a senior English major and can be reached at flynng@duq.edu.