One in three adults do not realise e-cigarette smoke is harmful to children

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Electronic cigarette vapour is harmful to children, yet one in three adults are still not aware of its dangers, a new study has found.

The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) polled 4,127 adults in an online survey, asking if they thought that exposing secondhand e-cigarette vapour to children was harmful.

Just over 5 per cent of adults thought there was "no harm" to kids, while 40 per cent said they thought the secondhand smoke caused "little harm" or only "some harm".

"The bottom line is that kids should not be exposed to emissions from any type of tobacco product, irrespective of whether that product is smoked, smokeless or electronic," senior study author Brian King said.

"Although e-cigarette aerosol generally contains less harmful ingredients than secondhand smoke, it is not harmless; safer is not the same thing as safe.

"It's important for users of these products, particularly parents, to know the dangers of secondhand exposure to e-cigarette aerosol and to protect kids from the preventable health risk."

For those who are unfamiliar with e-cigarettes, the battery-powered devices use a heating element that turns liquid nicotine and flavourings into vapours that are then inhaled and blown out as secondhand smoke, not too dissimilar to regular cigarettes.

Long-term effects of exposure to the smoke, ingredients and flavourings in e-cigarettes are still unclear and although they are not as toxic as traditional cigarettes, they still emit harmful substances into the air and it is possible children are being exposed to nicotine and other harmful chemicals.

Of those surveyed, current e-cigarette users were 18 times more likely than those who have never tried the devices to think the secondhand vapours caused no harm to children.