Erie County warns adults to keep fruit-flavored nicotine liquids and other drugs up and away from children’s reach
Submitted by the Erie County Health Department
The rapid rise in vaping and e-cigarette use has heightened the need for vaping users to store their devices and nicotine liquids securely, well out of the reach of children and pets.
“Regardless how they are advertised, nicotine juices pose a serious risk to children and pets, if ingested,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Gale Burstein. “The flavors and packaging can be extremely attractive to children, with names that sound like a candy or dessert.”
The Erie County Department of Health strongly advises teenagers and adults who vape to store their equipment and supplies in a secure area out of the reach of children. The American Association of Poison Control Centers began tracking calls about liquid nicotine in 2011, and 2018 cases were up more than 100% over 2013 numbers.
“Young children may mistake the juice bottle, with its bright colors and familiar shape, for something they see in the candy aisle of a grocery store,” Burstein said. “Despite claims that the packaging is child-resistant, nicotine is a poison, and drinking or touching it can cause serious harm, and in rare cases, hospitalization or death.”
Liquid nicotine juice is sold in bottles that range from 10 milliliters to 120 milliliters (about a half-cup). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one teaspoon of concentrated liquid nicotine can be fatal for an average 26-pound toddler.
E-cigarettes were introduced as an alternative for adults who smoke regular cigarettes or other tobacco products, with some potential benefit when used as a complete substitute for smoking. For youth, pregnant women and adults who do not currently use tobacco products, e-cigarettes are not safe. Nicotine is toxic, addictive and exposure harms the brain. Pregnant women who use nicotine have a greater risk of stillbirth and preterm delivery.
“There have been cases where a vaping device has exploded, causing burns and broken facial bones,” said Burstein. “Children are curious, and young children explore the world with their senses, including taste. There are substantial risks for injury to children when leaving these devices unattended.”
Parents or caregivers who suspect that a child has ingested nicotine juice should call the local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Early phase symptoms of nicotine poisoning include vomiting, rapid heart rate, increased salivation, loss of balance and visual and hearing distortions. Late phase symptoms include diarrhea, shallow breathing or no breathing, slow heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms and shock. If a child or adult displays those symptoms after exposure to nicotine, call 9-1-1.
You can reach your local poison control center by calling the Poison Help hotline: 1-800-222-1222. To save the number in your mobile phone, text POISON to 797979.