New CDC study shows huge spike in poison center calls involving kids and e-cigarettes

McClatchy Washington BureauApril 3, 2014 


A man who did not want to be identified inhales vapor from an electronic cigarette, March 12, 2014

TRAVIS LONG — Raleigh News & Observer/MCT

— - Calls to poison control centers related to liquids in e-cigarettes that contain nicotine jumped from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month by February 2014, according to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The proportion of poison center calls involving e-cigarettes went from 0.3 percent in September 2010 to 41.7 percent by February 2014, according to the study published in a weekly CDC report.

About 42 percent of the poison center calls related to e-cigarettes involved adults age 20 and older.

But more than half of the emergency calls involved children under age five who were sickened by either ingesting, inhaling or absorbing the liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes through their skin or eyes. Vomiting, nausea and eye irritation were the most common complaints that call centers received about children and e-cigarettes.

Children typically get sick from regular cigarettes by eating them.

“This report raises another red flag about e-cigarettes – the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be hazardous,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue. E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof, and they come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children.”

Data from the poison centers that serve all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories were used in the study. Overall, the centers reported 2,405 e-cigarette and 16,248 cigarette exposure calls from September 2010 to February 2014.

“The most recent National Youth Tobacco Survey showed e-cigarette use is growing fast, and now this report shows e-cigarette related poisonings are also increasing rapidly,” said Tim McAfee, CDC’s Director of the Office on Smoking and Health. “Health care providers, e-cigarette companies and distributors, and the general public need to be aware of this potential health risk from e-cigarettes.

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