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E-Cigarettes Are Poisoning Children: Consumer Reports

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Consumer Reports is calling on the government to enact new legislation for the packaging of e-cigarettes, following increased reports of poisonings among children.

A Consumer Reports study indicates that a large number of poison calls involving e-cigarettes among children under the age of five are being received nationwide.

Throughout the United States, poison control centers have received 1,571 calls relating to nicotine exposure through June 2014. In 2013, 1,414 calls concerning nicotine exposure were logged for the entire year. If reports this year continue in the same pattern over the remainder of 2014, nicotine poison calls will more than double this year.

In light of the increased poisonings, Consumer Reports is calling for legislation to allow the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to require e-cigarette manufacturers to make child safety packaging for liquid nicotine containers.

The legislation was introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla) and is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumer Federation of America and Kids in Danger.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also conducted a survey on e-cigarette poisoning in children and found calls to poison centers increased dramatically over the last five years.

The agency began coding e-cigarette poison calls differently than calls involving traditional nicotine and found more than 2,400 calls between September 2010 to February 2014. The CDC also noted that initially on one call was logged in September 2010, yet in February 2014, more than 200 calls were logged.

Many of the reports involve children who have ingested nicotine, some who inhaled it and others who absorbed the liquid through the skin or eyes. The most common side effects seen were vomiting, nausea and eye irritation.

“That’s why we, along with other consumer groups, support legislation to make child-protective packaging mandatory for liquid nicotine,” says Ellen Bloom, senior director of Federal Policy for Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.

The effects of nicotine poisoning can be especially dangerous for children and often require them to be admitted to the emergency room.

Advocates of increased regulation for e-cigarettes are especially concerned since manufacturers continue to make e-cigarettes in a wide range of colors and fruity flavors which appeal to children.

Manufacturers also create advertisements which some critics say are targeting children. A recent congressional report found manufactures intentionally target children with advertisements that use celebrities to entice teens and by offering free samples of fun flavors like Chocolate Treat or Cherry Crush.

In April the FDA announced its plans to begin overseeing electronic cigarettes. Under the proposed regulation children under the age of 18 will be restricted from legally buying the products and it will require manufacturers to register their products with the FDA.

However, the regulations do not limit the use of candy-like flavors which are the most appealing to teens.

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