E-Cigarette Poisonings are Rapidly Increasing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the amount of calls to poison centers for e-cigarette nicotine poisoning rose sharply from one call per month in 2010 to 215 calls per month in 2014, according to study published in the CDC’s publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The agency also noted that calls to poison centers regarding conventional cigarettes did not increase in a similar manner during the course of the study.

“This report raises another red flag about e-cigarettes – the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be hazardous,” stated CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. in a news release. “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.”

According to the study, over half of the poison center e-cigarette calls were for children under the age of five, while 42 percent of the calls were for individuals age 20 years and older. The CDC noted that while conventional cigarette poisonings are typically caused from young children eating them, e-cigarette poisonings are primarily caused from eating, inhaling, or absorbing the liquid containing nicotine through the skin or eyes. Adverse side effects from e-cigarettes frequently include nausea, vomiting, and eye irritation.

“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,” stated CDC Director Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H. “Health care providers, e-cigarette companies and distributors, and the general public need to be aware of this potential health risk from e-cigarettes.”

The CDC stated that because the nicotine in e-cigarette liquids has a demonstrable potential to cause immediate adverse health effects, pursuant to its report, it represents an emerging public health concern.  Consequently, the agency finds it critical that strategies be implemented to monitor and prevent future e-cigarette poisonings.