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E-cig smokers should be aware of danger to children, pets

Thursday, April 3, 2014 7:51 PM
Last updated 11:46 PM
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While still relatively small, the number of calls to poison centers from electronic cigarette exposure and liquid nicotine are “skyrocketing,” the director of the Georgia Poison Center said.

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Seth Brantley, an employee at Crazy Vapors on Davis Road in Augusta, said the business adds as much or as little nicotine to its e-cigarette solution as the customer wants.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Seth Brantley, an employee at Crazy Vapors on Davis Road in Augusta, said the business adds as much or as little nicotine to its e-cigarette solution as the customer wants.

A report in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that calls to poison centers related to e-cigarette exposure escalated from one a month in September 2010 to 215 a month in February. More than half those calls were in children younger than 5.

In Georgia, there were five calls in 2010, 22 calls last year and 24 calls already this year, said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the director of the Georgia Poison Center. The increasing calls likely reflect in part the growing use of those products, he said.

“As it is with anything, the more something is used, the more something is bought, the more something is prescribed, the more cases we’re going to get as a poison center service,” Lopez said.

But it might also reflect a lack of awareness of the potency of the liquid nicotine, which is a toxin, he said. By weight, nicotine is three times more lethal than arsenic, Lopez said.

“It’s a poison that people are not aware of,” he said.

Part of the problem is the lack of regulation on e-cigarettes, Lopez said. The Food and Drug Administration was given the authority to regulate those and other tobacco-derived products by a court case in 2010 and has announced its intent to do so and most recently estimated December as the date it would issue those regulations for public comment.

The FDA sent those guidelines to the White House’s Office of Manage­ment and Budget, and on Tuesday public health groups called on that office to release those regulations and let the FDA proceed.

FDA spokeswoman Jennifer Haliski released a statement Thursday that said further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of these cigarettes and other novel tobacco products.

The owner of an Augusta store specializing in e-cigarettes said common sense and safety caps and should limit any danger.

Crazy Vapors doesn’t sell the bottles of liquid nicotine and instead adds drops of it to solutions that go into the e-cigarette, depending on how strong the customer wants it, employee Seth Brantley said.

For the equivalent of a full-strength cigarette, a 50-milliliter bottle would have 20 drops, he said.

The solution comes in a bottle with a childproof cap, “almost kind of like a medicine bottle,” owner Craig Perryman said.

The poison center has a different name for childproof caps, Lopez said.

“We call those adult-resistant caps because we’re the ones that have the problem,” he said. “Kids figure out a way to get into them.”

It doesn’t take much of the liquid nicotine to create problems, Lopez said.

“Depending on the concentration of nicotine, as little as a quarter of a teaspoonful is probably enough to send the kid into the emergency room,” he said.

About 15 percent of their calls have ended up with kids heading to the hospital, Lopez said, particularly if the child ingested an unknown amount. While most will just have vomiting and nausea, it could lead to coma and seizures, he said.

Perryman said the store trusts customers to handle the solutions in a responsible way.

“We hope common sense takes over,” he said.

The poison center is trying to raise awareness before more calls come in, Lopez said.

“We’re trying as a poison center to let people know that this is a growing concern, the call numbers are skyrocketing, the use of these products is skyrocketing,” he said. “We just have to be more careful.”

CONTACT THE CENTER

As with other potentially hazardous products, the Georgia Poison Center advises those using liquid nicotine solutions for electronic cigarettes to keep them in the original labeled container and out of the reach of children. If you have a question or suspect a child or pet might have been exposed you can call the center at (800) 222-1222. You can also chat with a poison expert on its Web site, georgiapoisoncenter.org.

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Riverman1
118021
Points
Riverman1 04/04/14 - 06:18 am
2
1
Tobacco Establishment PR

The tobacco establishment is starting a PR campaign to restrict or outlaw these effective tools for those who want to quit smoking.

Little Lamb
55535
Points
Little Lamb 04/04/14 - 09:42 am
1
1
Double Whammy

Yes, RM. Here is one issue that big tobacco and anti-tobacco zealots agree on. They can't stand the free market coming up with a product that cuts down on cigarette usage with minimal governmental oversight.

Little Lamb
55535
Points
Little Lamb 04/04/14 - 09:50 am
1
1
Soft Reporting

Here is a quote from the story above:

A report in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that calls to poison centers related to e-cigarette exposure escalated. . . .

Note the subtle use of the word “exposure.” Some of the second-hand exposure zealots will jump onto that word and rail about exposure to second-hand e-cigarette "smoke" (which is not smoke at all).

Already, BreathEasy and Corey Johnson are trying to include e-cigarettes in the no smoking in bars ban. There is no scientific justification for this attack.

nanowerx
1705
Points
nanowerx 04/04/14 - 10:19 am
2
1
.

Do we need an Augusta Chronicle PSA to make sure your kids don't drink cleaning supplies and propane too? So sick of the "think of the kids" argument. I mean, this is a product that is single handily saving the lives of millions of people by getting them off Tobacco, but no, there has to be countless news articles making sure we know that nicotine is a poison and kids might get harmed. You know, if your kid gets a hold of too much salt they will have a horrible time too.

E-cigs got me off a pack -a-day habit I had for over a decade, the stuff succeeded where gums and patches never did. However, I am a responsible adult and don't leave e-liquid around for my 5 year old to get into.

Frankly, if that is the best slander they have on e-cigs, then they must be doing just fine.

Little Lamb
55535
Points
Little Lamb 04/04/14 - 11:53 am
0
1
Ingestion

Thank you, nanowerx, for making it clear that the dangers come from drinking the liquid, not inhaling the vapors.

From the story: The CDC report . . . “found that calls to poison centers related to e-cigarette exposure escalated from one a month in September 2010 to 215 a month in February. More than half those calls were in children younger than 5.”

The story should tell us the "exposure" pathway. It is almost certainly ingestion of the concentrated liquid by mouth. Also, the story could have done a public service by telling us what the symptoms were reported by the callers to poison control centers.

Tom Corwin
13768
Points
Tom Corwin 04/04/14 - 01:05 pm
1
1
Little Lamb

The symptoms were discussed in the story. For most they are nausea and vomiting and do not require a trip to the ER. The report looked at e-cigarettes versus regular cigarettes, and ingestion as the cause was actually lower for e-cigatettes than cigarettes and inhalation and eye irritation were more common with e-cigarettes. Skin exposure was also more common with e-cigarettes. Liquid nicotine is easily absorbed through the skin. One guy called the Georgia Poison Center after an e-cigarette cartridge in his pocket broke and he absorbed the stuff through his skin and it made him sick.

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