According to the CDC, there has been an increase in the number of cases of nicotine poisoning from e-cigarettes. Disturbingly, 51 percent of calls to poison hotlines have involved children aged 5 and younger, while 42 percent involved people aged 20 and older.
“The time has come to start thinking about what we can do to keep this from turning into an even worse public health problem,” said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.
He added that many people are not aware that liquid nicotine is toxic. “We need to make sure we can avert the possibility of an unintended death from nicotine poisoning,” he said.
“We have not had an unintentional poisoning death from e-cigarettes yet in the United States that we know of, but the potential is there given the amount of concentrated nicotine in these solutions — it would not take a lot for a child death to occur,” McAfee noted.
Experts say that the FDA is expected to propose regulations for e-cigarettes, hopefully including childproof caps and warning labels.
Nicotine Poisoning 101
According to HealthDay, liquid nicotine poisoning can occur in a few different ways:
- Swallowing it
- Inhaling it
- Absorbing it through the skin or membranes in the mouth and lips or eyes
Symptoms of nicotine poisoning can include nausea, vomiting or seizures.
Doctors highly advise to keep e-cigarettes out of the reach of children.
“These should be treated with the same caution one would use for bleach. In some ways, this is more toxic than bleach,” McAfee said.
The report is published in the April 4 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.