The death of the first child in the U.S. to be fatally poisoned by the liquid nicotine has revived calls for federal legislation that would require child-proof containers and other new safety rules for the substance used in increasingly popular e-cigarettes.
The 1-year-old boy died in Fort Plain, NY, on December 9 after ingesting liquid nicotine. Local police said the death appeared to be a accident.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fl., said the tragedy and other near-misses in recent years underscore the need for the federal government to regulate liquid nicotine.
Nelson said he would reintroduce a bill he wrote last year but has so far been unable to pass into law, the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act. The legislation would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue new safety rules that would require liquid nicotine to be sold in child-proof packaging.
The chemical now is commonly sold in brightly colored easy-to-open containers that can easily be mistaken for candy. Poison control centers across the country are reporting a huge jump in the number of calls they’ve received about the possible ingestion of liquid nicotine, from 271 in 2011 to nearly 4,000 in 2014.
Swallowing a single teaspoon of liquid nicotine can kill a child, and smaller doses can make them severely ill with nausea and vomiting, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
“If we can prevent even one child’s death or keep one fewer child from falling ill, then we absolutely have a responsibility to do that,” Nelson said in a statement on Tuesday.
Co-sponsors of the legislation in the Senate include Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Dick Durbin, D-Il., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, and Chuck Schumer, D-NY.