President Obama today signed into law a bill that requires child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine containers used for e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. 

Liquid nicotine, used in battery-operated vaping devices such as e-cigarettes and vape pens, is extremely dangerous. One teaspoon is potentially lethal to a child, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Poison-control centers last year received 3,067 exposure reports across all age groups. In 2014, poison-control centers responded to 3,783 e-cigarette and liquid nicotine exposure cases. More than half of those involved children under age 6 who might have ingested or inhaled liquid nicotine or gotten it on their skin or in their eyes. In December 2014, a 1-year-old boy from Fort Plain, N.Y., died after ingesting liquid nicotine.

Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, supported the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act since its introduction in January 2015 by Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), and 20 other senators.

E-cigs and related devices have been on the market for only about a decade, and experts are still evaluating many aspects of their safety. But “the danger that liquid nicotine poses to young children is undeniable,” says William Wallace, a policy analyst for Consumers Union, which partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Consumer Federation of America, and Kids In Danger to help educate lawmakers about the threat of young children being poisoned by liquid nicotine.

“Coming in a variety of bright colors and in flavors like cotton candy and gummy bear, liquid nicotine refills used in e-cigarettes have found their way into the hands of children across the country, causing serious and even deadly health consequences.” says Kyran Quinlan, M.D., chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention.

Under the new law, liquid nicotine can only be sold in child-resistant bottles and containers packaged in accordance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission's standards. That means that they must meet the same standards as other potentially poisonous household substances as set forth in the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970. Among other stipulations, the law requires that the packaging must be difficult for children under 5 years old to open. Manufacturers have six months to comply.

The American Vaping Association agrees that requiring child-resistant packaging makes sense. 

“Parents are recognizing that these products should be kept away from children,” says Gregory Conley, president of the organization. “Requiring child-resistant caps on e-liquid products is a reasonable regulation and is already the law in fifteen states,” he says, adding that, “The Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act [brings] uniformity across all 50 states on this issue."

Next up: preserving the FDA’s ability to regulate e-cigarettes, which is under threat by some members of Congress. 

“The new law helps address a known safety risk to children, but e-cigarettes have not been around long enough for us to know the long term effects of using them. It’s critical that the FDA retains the ability to address additional health risks that may emerge with these untested products,” Wallace says.