Liquid Nicotine Warnings Should Be Required for E-Cigs, 33 Attorneys General Tell FDA

Nearl two thirds of the attorneys general in the United States have joined in a letter sent this week to federal regulators, urging new requirements that liquid nicotine products used for e-cigarette vaping come in child-resistant bottles with a clear label warning about the risk of poisoning. 

In a letter (PDF) sent to the FDA on September 29, 33 attorneys general from 32 states and the District of Columbia called for new regulations on liquid nicotine, which has been linked to a number of infant and child poisoning deaths and serious injuries in recent years.

The attorneys general pointed to the results of a recent survey, which indicated that 87% of adults also want bottles of liquid nicotine, used in tank-style vaping devices and electronic cigarettes, made safer as well.

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“As more and more Americans – especially young people – take up e-cigarettes, it is more important than ever that the FDA ensures our children are protected from the dangers of liquid nicotine,” New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a press release. “Child-resistant packaging and health warnings are an essential step to keeping these potentially lethal toxins out of the hands of our children. The FDA must step up and regulate the sale and packaging of these dangerous products before any more kids are harmed.”

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPC) reports that there were 3,783 poisoning reports involving liquid nicotine exposures reported in 2014, half of which involved children under the age of five.

Schneiderman’s own state fined four liquid nicotine manufacturers in June for violating a state law enacted in 2014, which required child-proof caps on the bottles. The companies were ordered to pay the state a total of $95,000 in fines.

The letter requests that the FDA put in place nationwide requirements for liquid nicotine warnings about the risk of poisoning and that the product come in child-resistant bottles. To date, only New York requires the warning labels.

Liquid Nicotine Risks

“The broad dangers of over-exposure to nicotine are well-known and well-documented,” the letter states. “Even simple exposure can lead to significant side effects. For example, if less than a palm-sized area of skin is exposed to a nicotine/water solution between 10 and 50% concentration for a period of 15 minutes, the amount of nicotine absorbed equals or exceeds 30 mg, the amount considered a ‘deadly dose’.”

In a study published last month by the medical journal Academic Pediatrics, researchers indicate that the risk of childhood health problems caused by e-cigarette liquid may be much higher than previously believed. Only 26% of homes where at least one person vapes were found to have childproof liquid nicotine containers or other means of protecting children from accessing the e-cig liquid.

While e-cigarette use was reported in one in eight homes, 34% of those homes kept the potentially harmful liquid nicotine in a cupboard, 22% kept the liquid in a purse of bag, and 13% in an open container.

Overall, three percent of respondents said a child in their home had tried to drink the e-cigarette liquid.

Consumer Reports called on the government in 2014 to enact legislation concerning the packaging of e-cigarettes, after an increasing number of poisonings among children were reported.

The FDA recently announced a review into the rules governing liquid nicotine products, after receiving a growing number of reports of poisonings and deaths among children.


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