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FDA e-cigarettes: E-cigarettes are fatal to pets, FDA posts health warning signs

The new FDA e-cigarettes regulations and a list of health-related problems due to e-cigarettes was published by the FDA on April 24 only a few days after reports surfaced that e-cigarettes are fatal to pets. For most supporters of e-cigarettes, yesterday’s announcement by the FDA that the federal government is pursuing new regulations for electronic cigarettes appears to be another way to control someone’s freedom. According to an April 24 ABC7 News report, Thursday's FDA e-cigarettes proposal does not immediately change anything for e-cigarette users but aims to eventually tame the wild-west “fast-growing e-cigarette industry.”

FDA e-cigarettes: E-cigarettes are fatal to pets, FDA posts health warning signs
FDA e-cigarettes: E-cigarettes are fatal to pets, FDA posts health warning signs
Photo by Tom Pennington

For supporters of e-cigarettes, there should be no worry. The FDA had an approval by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since December of 2010 to regulate e-cigarettes and not much has happened in the past three years. Even in Thursday’s document, the FDA begins its report on the new regulations with the words, “e-cigarettes have not been fully studied, so consumers currently don’t know.”

What supporters of e-cigarettes should worry about is kids and pets. As reported by San Diego’s 10News, Dr. Lee Cantrell of the California Poison Control System said that in 2012, there were 19 calls to the state poison center because children got too close to the e-cigarette liquid refill containers. Seven of those 19 children were under the age of five. Between January of 2013 to February of 2014, California’s Poison Control System received more than 130 calls.

CBS Pittsburgh reports that the Pittsburgh Poison Control Center also received calls because children were exposed to the concentrated liquid nicotine when it was spilled, splashed somewhere, or the child accidentally tasted it. “It works in many ways like a nerve gas,” Dr. Lynch says. “As little as a teaspoon can be deadly.”

Dr. Lynch described the symptoms of children being exposed to the liquid as “rapid, but short-lived.” Depending on the amount of exposure, however, children might experience more severe symptoms like nausea, vomiting, confusion, and then potential seizures. Even if a child does not drink the liquid, the nicotine can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Both the California’s State Poison Control System as well as the Pittsburgh Poison Control Center reported that they also received calls because pets had been exposed to e-cigarettes. The symptoms described were foaming at the mouth, seizures, and sudden death in less than one hour. According to the FDA, “electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. They turn chemicals, including highly addictive nicotine, into an aerosol that is inhaled by the user.” Pets might be drawn to the flavors and mistake it for something else, reports an Animalist News video.

The FDA’s e-cigarettes April 24 report about its plan to impose new regulations lists pneumonia, congestive heart failure, disorientation, seizure, or hypotension as unproven but potential side effects of e-cigarettes for people. For pets, the encounter with e-cigarettes has been proven to be fatal. “Someone whose neighbor disposes of their cartridges and things on their sidewalk, like a regular cigarette, you can imagine pets walking through that stuff, or licking it up,” said Dr. Lynch.