Concerns Rise Over E-Cig Exposure

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PUBLIC NEWS SERVICE | GREG STOLEMYER | JANUARY 16, 2015

The number of calls to poison-control centers about electronic-cigarette incidents more than doubled last year compared with 2013, according to new data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Children under age 6 were the victims in more than half the cases.

The rise in calls has the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids calling on the Food and Drug Administration to finalize its proposed rule to regulate the products. Vince Willmore, the campaign’s vice president for communications, said the agency also needs to crack down on companies’ marketing and flavors, such as “gummy bear” and bubble gum.

“Given how they’re being marketed, and given these sweet flavors, it’s not surprising that more kids are using e-cigarettes,” he said, “and that they’re attracted to nicotine liquids and being poisoned by them.”

While no federal regulations restrict the sale of electronic cigarettes and the nicotine liquids, most states, including Kentucky, require that purchasers be 18 years old. According to a Kentucky Health Issues Poll released Thursday, six in 10 adults in the Commonwealth (61 percent) want the FDA to regulate the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes.

Willmore said the colors and packaging of e-cigarettes also appeal to kids, yet nicotine is highly dangerous – and not only because of potential addiction.

“Nicotine is a very toxic substance, and that exposure to even small amounts of nicotine – whether it’s through the skin or through ingestion – can cause vomiting and seizures,” he said. “Unfortunately, it can even be lethal.”

Willmore said the FDA should require childproof packaging, and adults need to keep the devices and supplies out of sight and out of reach of children.

Data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers is online at aapcc.org. Results of the Kentucky Health Issues Poll are at healthy-ky.org.

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