By Bruce Anderson and Wayne Hogan
Electronic cigarettes, battery-operated nicotine-delivery devices, heat liquid into a smog that users inhale. Nicotine for the liquid is extracted from tobacco and is the same highly-addictive stimulant in cigarettes. The liquefied nicotine in e-cigarettes is manufactured in colors and flavors such as mint, orange, chocolate, caramel and strawberry that may promote more smoking instead of reducing it. With no FDA regulation, the advertised safety claims cannot be verified. There is no federal regulation of the liquid nicotine sold online in small bottles for refilling e-cigarettes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified electronic cigarette/liquid nicotine risk of injury to eyes, skin or other body parts. CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report finds that calls to poison control centers about e-cigarette exposure rose from one a month in September 2010 to 215 a month in February 2014. People injured by e-cigarettes reported to poison control centers common side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and eye irritation. Among the e-cigarette cases reported to poison control centers, 58 percent of the calls reported some kind of “adverse health effect.” The injuries were caused by ingestion (68.9%), inhalation (16.8%), contact with the eye (8.5%) and contact with the skin (5.9%). One person committed suicide by injecting the liquid nicotine solution. Of those harmed by e-cigarettes, 51% were children under the age of 6.
CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden, stated, “This report raises another red flag about e-cigarettes – the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be hazardous.” Mr. Frieden warned that the liquid nicotine refill cartridges are not required to be sold in childproof containers.
The New York Times recently reported on the soaring numbers of accidental poisonings, including children, who may be drawn to the bright colors and flavors of liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes.
New CDC study finds dramatic increase in e-cigarette-related calls to poison centers
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR); Notes from the Field: Calls to Poison Centers for Exposures to Electronic Cigarettes — United States, September 2010–February 2014
Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes