In recent years, smoking has become less and less popular due in large part to consumers becoming better educated about the risks involved with nicotine and second hand smoke. Various advertising campaigns have shown the negative effects of smoking cigarettes on the human body, so the tobacco industry has developed what it claims to be a “safer alternative” to smoking the typical cigarette: e-cigarettes. These electronic cigarettes are typically battery operated to simulate smoking a cigarette by sucking on the device to activate a heating element within. This vaporizes a liquid substance for operators to inhale.
More and more consumers are turning to e-cigarette use for a variety of reasons. Manufacturers of these electronic cigarette devices claim that they are safer because of the lack of tar within them. There are numerous flavors that sound, smell, and taste great to users, many of which still include nicotine. Unfortunately, these devices are becoming increasingly popular to teenagers throughout the United States. Since 2012, the number of middle and high school students using electronic cigarettes has doubled. This is dangerous because while companies claim that they are safer than smoking cigarettes, these devices still contain nicotine, which is very addicting.
The dangers of e-cigarettes don’t end there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in April of 2014, there were 215 calls reporting poisonings from electronic cigarette devices. In 2010, that number was one. Even more troubling is that of the 215, over 50% involved children age 6 and younger. And these numbers are likely lower than the actual number of poisonings in the United States because not all are reported to the CDC.
So why are poisonings from e-cigarettes so common? It is because these devices use liquid nicotine to be appealing to users. This liquid concentration is not only a drug, but can be extremely toxic in any dose size. These poisonings can happen when the liquid nicotine is inhaled or even when it is only spilled on the skin and absorbed into the body. This can happen while filling the device, when a refill or cartridge breaks, and especially when children handle these devices because they do not have appropriate safety features to keep kids from spilling the liquid onto them. The amount to kill a small child is only a teaspoon. There have been many reported incidents involving young children who smelled their parents’ e-cigarette flavor and tried to eat the liquid because it tasted and smelled good. These dangers have prompted many people to demand childproofing and stricter safety standards for e-cigarette companies. The FDA is allowed to regulate and oversee cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and other tobacco products such as e-cigarettes. A proposal was presented by the FDA to require stricter regulation of e-cigarettes in April, but is still under review. In the event that you or your child is a victim of nicotine poisoning as a result of handling e-cigarettes, you may have a legal claim against the manufacturer.