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Poisonings from e-cig’s up dramatically

Rick Pierce of Mason City takes a healthy puff from his electronic cigarette in 2012 while enjoying a beverage at Burke's Bar in Mason City.
Rick Pierce of Mason City takes a healthy puff from his electronic cigarette in 2012 while enjoying a beverage at Burke’s Bar in Mason City.

WASHINGTON – Poison control centers reported a major spike in calls involving e-cigarette poisonings, increasing from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014.

Poisoning from e-cigarettes involves the liquid containing nicotine used in the device and can occur three ways: by ingestion, inhalation or absorption through the skin or eyes. More than half of these poisoning calls involved children ages five years old or younger.

To assess the frequency of exposures to e-cigarettes and characterize the reported adverse health effects associated with e-cigarettes, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) analyzed data on calls to U.S. poison centers (PCs) about human exposures to e-cigarettes (exposure calls) for the period September 2010 through February 2014.

During the study period, PCs reported 2,405 e-cigarette and 16,248 cigarette exposure calls from across the United States. E-cigarette exposure calls per month increased from one in September 2010 to 215 in February 2014 (See figure, below). Cigarette exposure calls ranged from 301 to 512 calls per month and were more frequent in summer months.

E-cigarettes accounted for an increasing proportion of combined monthly e-cigarette and cigarette exposure calls, increasing from 0.3% in September 2010 to 41.7% in February 2014. A greater proportion of e-cigarette exposure calls came from health-care facilities than cigarette exposure calls

The most common adverse health effects in e-cigarette exposure calls were vomiting, nausea, and eye irritation. One suicide death from intravenous injection of nicotine liquid was reported

Calls about exposures to e-cigarettes, which were first marketed in the United States in 2007, now account for 41.7% of combined monthly e-cigarette and cigarette exposure calls.

US Senator Tom Harkin said action needs to be taken to control nicotine products.

Senator Tom Harkin
Senator Tom Harkin

“Now we know that in addition to the risks of addiction and adverse health effects that come from the intended use of e-cigarettes, there is also an alarming risk of accidental poisoning for young children who get their hands on liquid nicotine. Today’s study demonstrates just one more reason why child-oriented marketing of these products – including the use of bright colors and fruit and candy flavors – is so dangerous. It is simply unacceptable that the risk for poisoning from liquid nicotine has increased so dramatically, and these figures are all the more reason why the Food and Drug Administration must assert its authority over these products.”

Alternate Text: The figure above shows the number of calls to poison centers for cigarette or e-cigarette exposures, by month, in the United States during September 2010–February 2014. E-cigarette exposure calls per month increased from one in September 2010 to 215 in February 2014.
The figure above shows the number of calls to poison centers for cigarette or e-cigarette exposures, by month, in the United States during September 2010–February 2014. E-cigarette exposure calls per month increased from one in September 2010 to 215 in February 2014.

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