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1,500% increase in children poisoned by liquid nicotine

The growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping has led to an enormous increase in children being poisoned by liquid nicotine. Calls to poison control centers have increased by 1,500 percent over the past three years, according to a recently released report in the medical journal, Pediatrics.

Pediatrician Anatole Karpovs with The Children’s Clinic of Southwest Louisiana is sounding the alarm about these lurking dangers.

He says liquid nicotine can come in fruit and candy flavors and packaged in bright colors that are especially appealing to children. Combine that visual temptation with easy access and the result for children can be dangerous poisoning, according to Dr. Karpovs.

“They are not put in child safety containers and they are oftentimes very colorful, they are flavored, and so it can be very, very attractive to a young child who sees this out in the open.”

Researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Policy analyzed calls from the National Poison Data System from 2012 to 2015. It showed more than half of those ingesting liquid nicotine were under the age of six.

“They’re not safe,” said Dr. Karpovs. “The children oftentimes get stomach pain and vomiting. They are often referred to emergency room centers or secondary care centers.”

E-cigarettes and vaping products have been touted as a good thing by some, compared with tobacco-burning cigarettes. But Dr. Karpovs says there is no evidence to support they are actually safer and liquid nicotine is still highly addictive.

“Vaping has been presented to people as being somehow less dangerous than cigarette smoking. There’s just no evidence that’s the case,” said Dr. Karpovs.

The National Poison Data System shows an average of 729 children ingest, inhale, or absorb liquid nicotine through the skin or eyes every month.

Dr. Karpovs says if you have tobacco or nicotine products in your home, keep them far away from children.

“Just like any medicine or any kind of dangerous chemical, put it up out of the way of the children, lock it away and do not give them the temptation to get into it,” he said.

Starting in August, the Food and Drug Administration will start regulating electronic nicotine delivery systems. That includes e-cigarettes, vape pens, cigars, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco, and nicotine gel.

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