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E-Cigarette Poisoning in Young Children is "An Epidemic"

Steve Wagner

A new study discovers a frightening e-cigarette trend that will not be covered by the new FDA regulations on non-traditional tobacco products. Dr. Gary Smith is the director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and he is also the lead author on a disturbing new article being published in the journal Pediatrics today.

Dr. Smith’s study looked at U.S. poison center calls and found an explosion of calls related to e-cigarettes and e-liquid or vape juice. Young children are inhaling or swallowing liquid nicotine, with some suffering severe physical consequences. Most of the poison center calls came after a child swallowed the liquid product used in e-cigarettes, known as e-liquid or vape juice. The number of calls received in the earlier dates reviewed in the study was around 14 per month. Three years later, there were over two hundred calls per month. On average, the child who ingested the liquid was two years old.

One Death, Serious Complications

Many of the children who swallowed or inhaled these nicotine products were treated at home and suffered no major ill effects. In late 2014, a 1-year-old child became the first to die after being poisoned by e-liquid. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), just one teaspoon of liquid nicotine is enough to be lethal to a small child. Lesser amounts can cause serious complications such as coma, breathing problems, and seizures.

Ingestion is not the only danger. The smaller the child, the higher the risk of illness due to skin exposure to liquid tobacco. With minor exposure, skin and eye irritation are common, as is vomiting. Many emergency physicians at children’s hospitals, as well as poison specialists, have been concerned for some time. While they are pleased with the new FDA regulations on e-cigarettes and other nontraditional tobacco products, they believe keeping liquid tobacco away from children requires parents to undertake precautionary measures, such as these recommendations by the AAPCC:

  • Protect skin when handling the products.
  • Always keep e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine locked up and out of the reach of children.
  • Follow the specific disposal instructions on the label.
  • If you think someone has been exposed to an e-cigarette or liquid nicotine, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

Liquid tobacco is required to have childproof packaging in some states, but not all. When combined with brightly colored packaging and child-friendly flavors such as gummy bear or cotton candy, there are lethal possibilities for small children. If you have these products in your home, it is important to make sure children understand how dangerous they can be.

Do you know a child who was injured by e-cigarette products? If so, the product liability attorneys at Wagner Reese can help. We understand how scary it can be when a child is sick, and we will stand strong on your behalf to ensure justice is served. Not only will we fight for the compensation you deserve, but with your help, we can protect other children from similar tragedies. Call us today for a FREE consultation: (888) 204-8440.

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