New E-Cig Danger: Poisonings in Children On the Rise

Vaping shops have been sprouting up all over as the popularity of electronic cigarettes surges. While the number of adults in the U.S. who smoke traditional cigarettes is at an all-time low of 15 percent, e-cigarettes are being consumed by smokers, former smokers, and first-time users in record numbers. In January 2014, there were 466 brands of e-cigarettes and 7,764 unique flavors available for sale, estimated at the time to be increasing at a rate of 10.5 brands and 242 new flavors per month. Although the long-term health effects of e-cigs are still unclear, poisoning due to liquid nicotine exposure is an immediate danger. Fundamentally, electronic cigarettes are battery-powered vaporizers. An atomizer heats a liquid solution usually containing propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings. Also called “e-juice,” the liquid solution turns into a smoke-like vapor when it gets hot. E-cigarette liquids are a poisoning risk if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed. Even small doses of liquid nicotine can result in serious poisoning because it is highly concentrated and easily absorbed by the body, rapidly affecting the circulation, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. The Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital recently conducted a study of calls to U.S. Poison Control Centers and found that from January 2012 through April 2015, more than 4,000 children were exposed to e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine. The number of children under the age of six who were poisoned by nicotine in e-cigs increased by nearly 1,500 percent over that 40-month period. Ninety percent of the exposed children had swallowed the e-juice, and by April 2015, a nicotine exposure call concerning a child was made roughly every three hours. Some of the calls culminated in the child’s requiring a visit to the emergency room, and one child died after consuming a homemade nicotine liquid concoction. One of the reasons that children may be drawn to e-juice is purely commercial. It is often packaged in small, colorful bottles – without child-resistant caps – in flavors that would be hard for most kids to resist, including chocolate, glazed doughnut, bubble gum, cotton candy, watermelon, and strawberry. Children are naturally curious and do not appreciate the dangers presented by swallowing or touching liquid nicotine. However, it is a poison that should be stored out of their reach, preferably in a locked location. In fact, adults should protect their own skin by wearing gloves when handling refill containers. Ideally, e-cigarettes should not be used or refilled in front of children to help avoid imitation and should be disposed of properly to prevent exposure to kids or pets from any residue. Take a moment to put the national Poison Help Line number (1-800-222-1222) in your cell phone and post the number on the refrigerator as well so you’ll be prepared. If you think someone has been exposed to an e-cigarette or liquid nicotine, don’t wait for the person to look or feel sick before calling. Awareness of e-cig poisonings is important. If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the personal injury attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm. We have years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in Pikeville, KY, we proudly serve communities throughout the Bluegrass State. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or filling out our online form.

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