E-cigs, liquid nicotine pose danger for children

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As e-cigarettes gained popularity, there was a sharp rise in the number of young children exposed to poisonous liquid nicotine. Federal lawmakers responded with a law that required liquid nicotine containers to be child-resistant. However, a new study shows the law is just not enough.

In poison centers, daily calls continue to demonstrate the dangers of liquid nicotine and e-cigarettes for young children.

"From January 2012 to April 2017, there were more than 8,200 calls to U.S. Poison Control Centers about children younger than age six who had been exposed to liquid nicotine. That's four children a day," says Dr. Gary Smith from Nationwide Children's Hospital. 

His team there found that more than 90 percent of children are exposed to liquid nicotine by swallowing it. This can result in serious outcomes. 

"When the serious clinical effects occurred, they include things like coma, seizures, some children stopped breathing and there was even one death," he says.  

The child nicotine poisoning prevention act that went into effect in July 2016 may have helped. In the nine months that followed, there was a nearly 20 percent decrease in the monthly number of exposures - but experts are calling for more to be done. 

"Additional regulation of this product is needed. Children are still being exposed far too often," Dr. Smith says. 

Smith says regulations should include adding flow restrictors to liquid nicotine refill bottles and child-resistant chambers to e-cigarettes. He's also urging the FDA to limit the volume and concentration of liquid nicotine in refill containers to a sub-lethal dose and to prohibit flavors and attractive labeling for liquid nicotine, as was done for cigarettes. 

"Liquid nicotine is highly toxic and in very small amounts can cause serious health effects, including even death," he says.  

If you use e-cigarettes remember to keep them out of sight and out of reach of young kids, treat them like you'd treat other poisons, locked up even.