Last September I alerted parents to the new teen temptation: electronic cigarettes popularly known as e cigs.
At that time the dangers were more speculation than documented fact.
However, as e-cigs have become more and more popular among young people, calls to the nation’s poison control centers reporting serious side effects from exposure to liquid nicotine have increased dramatically.
The least serious side effects are nausea and vomiting within minutes of inhaling nicotine fumes or local irritation when absorbed through the eyes or skin.
However there has been at least one case of suicide in which the young person injected the liquid nicotine.
According to Dr. Alfred Alegues, from the Poison Control Center in Tampa, one 30 milliliter bottle of e-liquid can have the same amount of nicotine as 100 cigarettes.
According to the CDC, in 2010 there was only one call per month to the poison center involving e-cigs. This year there have already been 215 such calls, more than half of which involved children under age 5. Last year a 5 year old from Florida was exposed to fumes and vomited for several days
CDC experts suspect that the numbers are actually higher since not all poisonings get reported.
So far, e-cigs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Florida has no restrictions on the sale of e-cigs to minors.
Nationally, there is no regulation at all including the need for the product to be childproof which is why very young children who are attracted to the scent of bubblegum and flavors like banana or cherry crush and find it easy to open their parents’ e-cig refill cartridges have been poisoned by the concentrated nicotine liquid.
Bottom line: parents need to be alert to the new evidence about the dangers of liquid nicotine poisoning.