In a June 29 press conference, Senator Charles Schumer urged the federal government to require child-proof caps on containers used to refill e-cigarettes, citing the growing number of poisonings resulting from exposure to liquid nicotine.
The senator from New York said that poison centers in his state had received nearly 70 calls so far this year about accidental poisonings from liquid nicotine as compared to 46 calls in all of 2013. At the national level, calls to poison centers regarding liquid nicotine have gone from about one per month in 2010 to 200 per month in 2014.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) slightly more than half of the reported exposures have occurred in children under the age of 5. As e-cigarettes become more popular, healthcare providers are concerned this number will increase with tragic consequences.
Poisoning can result from swallowing the liquid, inhaling the liquid or absorbing it through the skin or the eyes. Liquid nicotine poisoning can bring on nausea, vomiting, seizures, heart problems and even death.
Because some e-cigarettes are refillable, liquid nicotine is available in separate containers. With flavors such as bubble gum and chocolate, it is easy to understand why the containers are attractive to children.
It is for this reason that Schumer is asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to include his proposal for child-proof caps and warning labels on the containers in the final draft of the agency’s e-cigarette regulations. The draft is part of the implementation for the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that was passed in 2009.
For users of e-cigarettes, the American Association of Poison Control Centers recommends that e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine should always be locked up and out of the reach of children. They also advise anyone using the products to protect their skin from exposure to liquid nicotine.