Marketers of e-cigarettes have introduced dozens of flavors and colors that appeal to children. But they have not taken steps to protect children from getting into the packages. That is unfortunate, because the liquid nicotine used in the devices is toxic, and the number of calls to poison-control centers linked to exposure to the products is skyrocketing, especially among children under 5. "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.
Through June 2014 there have been 1,571 calls to poison-control centers in the U.S. related to exposure to nicotine, up from 1,414 in all of 2013, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on a similar pattern: It found that the number of calls to poison centers increased from 1 in September 2010 to 215 in February 2014.
Most reports involved ingesting the nicotine, though some came from inhaling it or absorbing it through the skin or eyes. The most common adverse health effects were vomiting, nausea, and eye irritation. In children, especially, the effects can be dangerous and require a trip to the emergency room. Find out more about the most common e-cigarette complaints.
Consumers Union, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Consumer Federation of America, and Kids In Danger support legislation introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) that would allow the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to require child safety packaging for liquid nicotine containers.