Recently, there have been several news agencies reporting on the harmfulness of e-liquid, the nicotine laced liquid that is used in electronic cigarettes. On March 23, 2014, New York Times published a story that many in the electronic cigarette community feel is a blatant attack on the e-cigarette industry. The article, filled with contradictory statistics, tells about children getting sick from ingesting nicotine and even a story of one man injecting himself with nicotine in order to commit suicide. Matt Richtel, author of the article, would have his readers believe that liquid nicotine is the most dangerous substance known to man; however, the most recent report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Data System (NPDS) tells a different story.
According the latest NPDS report which was published in 2012, there were 3,373,025 calls made nationally to poison control centers. Of those calls there were 2,275,141 human exposures and 66,440 animal exposures. 1,025,547 of those calls were for information only and 5,897 calls were confirmed as non-exposures.
The results of the report show The top five substance classes most frequently involved in all human exposures were analgesics (11.6%), cosmetics/personal care products (7.9%), household cleaning substances (7.2%), sedatives/hypnotics/antipsychotics (6.1%),and foreign bodies/toys/miscellaneous (4.1%). Electronic cigarette related calls were also recorded in the data gathered by the report, but the number of cases that were reported are not as severe as some news agencies are making them out to be.
The total number of calls to poison control regarding electronic cigarettes was 459. Of those calls, 447 were related to the e-cigarette device and/or cartridge containing nicotine while 12 of those calls were made regarding nicotine liquid. In relation to the total number of calls that were recorded in the report this data concludes that not even 1% (.01%) of the total calls recorded were electronic cigarette related.
Also mentioned in the report is tobacco related products which many people have replaced with e-cigarettes. The number of calls reported for tobacco products was 8,200. Of those 8,200 calls, 5881 were related to cigarettes, and 1 death was recorded from exposure to cigarettes.
Still, these numbers pale in comparison to the number of analgesics, cosmetics/personal care products, household cleaning substances, sedatives/hypnotics/antipsychotics, and foreign bodies/toys/miscellaneous calls that are recorded in the report. The majority of calls that were made to poison control centers were related to children under the age of 5 which points out the real problem we have in America. People are not keeping harmful substances out of reach of their children.
On March 25, USA Today reported a warning that was issued by the American Association of Poison Control Centers for parents to keep liquid nicotine out of reach of children. The group has reported an increase in the number of calls regarding liquid nicotine, and says there have been 651 calls reported through March 24 of this year. There are no reports being made on the number of analgesics related calls that are being received for this year which clearly is the most major exposure America is dealing with right now.
It is clear that the electronic cigarette industry is growing as the number of people who have reported being able to quit smoking conventional cigarettes by using e-cigarettes has increased. It should therefore be no surprise that the number of reported cases of exposure to nicotine liquid have increased as well. The same could be said of any product where there is an increase in use. For example, if there was an increase in the number of people buying swimming pools, we would surely see reports of increased exposure to swimming pool water chemicals.
The bottom line is, it is great to warn parents who make it a habit of leaving harmful substances around their small children of the dangers of nicotine liquid, but to use the power and authority that news outlets have in attempt to blatantly scare consumers away from a product that has helped countless people quit smoking, is wrong. Evidence shows that a bottle of nicotine liquid poses far less of a risk to exposure compared to an analgesic product such as Tylenol, and any harmful substance can only do harm to children if parents act irresponsibly by leaving it sitting around for their children to have access to it.