New E-Cigarette Poisoning Data Reinforce Need for Immediate Government Action to Protect Children

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Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act would require child-proof packaging for liquid nicotine

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These products are highly dangerous to children

New data just released from poison control centers across the country show that e-cigarettes and their liquid nicotine refills are poisoning children at an alarming rate. As of Oct. 31, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) has reported 3,353 year-to-date exposures related to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine. An exposure means that someone has come into contact with the substance in some way, for example, by ingesting, inhaling or absorbing liquid nicotine through the skin or eyes.

Because liquid nicotine comes in a variety of bright colors and in flavors appealing to children such as cotton candy and gummy bear, it is no surprise that these products have found their way into the hands of children. In 2013, 1,543 exposures to these products were recorded. This year, with nearly two months left in 2014, the number has more than doubled, with a majority of the cases occurring in children younger than six years old.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and AAPCC are urging federal legislators to take immediate action this year by supporting and passing the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2014. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation would allow and direct the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to require child-proof packaging for liquid nicotine sold to consumers.

“We cannot afford to wait another day while the number of children exposed to and poisoned by e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine continues to climb,” said AAP President James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP. “As pediatricians, we do everything in our power to keep children safe, and now we are calling on Congress to help do the same. The Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2014 would require the same child safety standards that pediatricians and parents depend on for products like household cleaners and prescription drugs to apply to liquid nicotine containers used to refill e-cigarettes. This step will go a long way to ensure that these dangerous products do not find their way into the hands and mouths of children. Congress must pass this common-sense legislation before it adjourns for the year.”

One teaspoon of liquid nicotine could be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts can cause severe illness, often requiring trips to the emergency room. Despite the dangers these products pose to children, there are currently no standards set in place that require child-proof packaging. By addressing this void, the legislation would work to protect children from ingesting or encountering liquid nicotine.

“As our data demonstrates, children are being exposed to and poisoned by e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine at unprecedented levels,” said AAPCC Executive Director Stephen T. Kaminski, J.D. “These products are highly dangerous to children, and are far too easily accessible without proper safeguards. The Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2014 would go a long way toward keeping these products out of children’s reach, protecting their health and safety. Together with AAP, we applaud the foresight and awareness this legislation brings and urge its passage.”

For more information on AAPCC’s new findings, please visit: http://www.aapcc.org/alerts/e-cigarettes/.

AAPCC supports the nation’s 55 poison center members in their efforts to treat and prevent drug, consumer product, animal, environmental and food poisoning. Members staff the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 that provides free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year from toxicology specialists, including nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and poison information providers. In addition, AAPCC maintains the only poison information and surveillance database in the United States, providing real-time monitoring of unusual poisoning patterns, chemical exposures and other emerging public health hazards. AAPCC partners with federal agencies such as EPA, HRSA and the CDC, as well as private industry.

To learn more, visit http://www.aapcc.org, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or read our blog at aapcc.wordpress.com.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit http://www.aap.org or follow @AmerAcadPeds on Twitter and Facebook.

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Brett Schuster
AAPCC
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