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E-cigarette-related calls to poison centers have increased sharply, CDC reports

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The per-month number of calls to poison centers for exposure to e-cigarettes rose from one call in September 2010 to 215 calls this past February, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found in a study published April 3. More than half these cases involved children younger than age 5.

One poison center reported a death by suicide when a user injected liquid nicotine.

The study looked at data from poison control centers in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. territories. It compared calls relating to conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes and e-cigarette liquids.

E-cigarettes are marketed as an alternative to tobacco, and they have increased in popularity over the past several years. One component of the device is a cartridge that holds liquid nicotine. The CDC notes that nicotine can be hazardous and nicotine poisoning is a serious danger.

E-cigarette exposure reports were found to have more associated adverse effects than ingesting conventional cigarettes, including eye irritation, vomiting and nausea.

“Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue. E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof, and they come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children.” — CDC Director Tom Frieden

E-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA, and many states do not restrict the sale of them to minors.

Tim McAfee, Director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, urges e-cigarette manufacturers and distributors, health care providers, and the public to be aware of the health risks posed by e-cigarettes.

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