Published Date: 04/21/2014
By Reneé Watkins
In October 2013, CAI's Advice & Resolution Team member George Ports wrote a Q&A in the Advice and Resolution Corner on Electronic Cigarettes. This Q&A dealt with employers modifying their “No Smoking Policies” to include electronic cigarettes and served as a reminder that very little is currently known regarding the long-term health effects of “e-cigarettes.”
Electronic cigarettes are steadily gaining in popularity and some people are becoming concerned about their exposure to the liquid nicotine used in these devices. The number of monthly calls to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has surged over the last several months. More than 51 percent of these calls were in reference to poison of children ages five and under.
The concentrated nicotine used in e-cigarettes is highly toxic and e-cigarettes are manufactured in a variety of flavors (similar to gum), making them very attractive to young children. Liquid nicotine can be either inhaled or absorbed through the skin. If injected directly, or taken in large doses, liquid nicotine can cause death. These warnings are not only for the protection of children. Many adults have become ill by spilling liquid nicotine on their hands while attempting to “refill” their e-cigarettes.
Poison control experts are recommending at the very least, a child-resistant cap be included on the liquid nicotine refills. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently does not regulate these products and better controls are necessary. Education on the dangers of using e-cigarettes and the nicotine refills is a critical step until regulations can be put in place.
While e-cigarettes are designed to be a more healthy alternative to using actual tobacco products and are expected to save lives as a result, they carry with them a more immediate and lethal danger than the long-term effects using real cigarettes. This immediate threat to the safety of adults and children exposed to e-cigarettes should be addressed by the FDA. Until then, state and local governments may use their own discretion when deciding age-limits and other restrictions on the use of these products.
For more information on e-cigarettes, please contact a member of CAI's Advice & Resolution Team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.