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E-cigarettes – a huge cause for alarm

A few weeks ago, my colleague and blogger friend Dr. Shalini Forbis shared some of the dangers of e-cigarettes – particularly to teenagers.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a dramatic increase in e-cigarette-related calls to poison centers.

In fact, the number of calls to poison centers involving e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine rose from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014, according to the study. The number of calls per month involving regular cigarettes did not show a similar increase during the same time period.

This dangerous new form of a powerful stimulant – nicotine – is hitting markets nationwide.  It’s a poison hazard because nicotine in its liquid form is extracted from tobacco and tinctured with a variety of flavorings, colorings, and assorted chemicals.

These “e-liquids,” the key ingredient in e-cigarettes, are powerful neurotoxins which even in tiny amounts either ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting and seizures. A teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid could kill a small child. And children are drawn to these brightly colored, wonderful smelling liquids that come in a variety of tempting flavors such as chocolate or bubble gum.

Similar to e-cigarettes, e-liquids are not regulated by federal authorities and the industry is extremely fast growing. They are sold legally in stores and online in small bottles that are typically kept around the house to refill e-cigarettes.

Unfortunately, the result is anything but typical.

More than half (51.1 percent) of the calls to poison centers due to e-cigarettes involved young children 5 years and younger, and about 42 percent of the poison calls involved people age 20 and older. The CDC study found the proportion of e-cigarette calls jumped from 0.3 percent in September 2010 to 41.7 percent in February 2014.

Poisoning from regular cigarettes generally occurs when a young child eats them. Poisoning related to e-cigarettes and their “e-liquids” can occur by ingestion, inhalation or absorption through the eyes or skin.

Please keep an eye out for these e-cigarettes and e-liquids and tell others about their dangers!

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.