E-cigarettes, e-hookahs, vape pens, and similar electronic nicotine delivery systems have become increasingly popular in the last several years. As the household presence of e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine has increased, so have exposures among young children.
Just a small amount of liquid nicotine can be deadly to a child. Poisoning can happen in two ways: when the liquid is swallowed or when it is absorbed through the skin. Children exposed to liquid nicotine are more than five times more likely to be admitted to the hospital and two-and-one-half times more likely to have a severe medical outcome than children exposed to traditional cigarettes. There has been one death associated with exposure to liquid nicotine accessed from an open refill container.
Parents and child caregivers can help children stay safer by following these tips:
- Store e-cigarettes and refill products where children cannot see or reach them – in a locked location is best. Do not store them in a purse, which children can easily access.
- Use and refill alone. Do not use e-cigarettes around children. Because children want to imitate adults, using e-cigarettes and refilling them with children nearby could lead to a dangerous exposure. The images, smells, and colors may attract children.
- Refill, clean, and dispose of products safely. Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling liquid nicotine. Clean up spills right away with paper towels. Get rid of leftover liquid by pouring it into a bag of kitty litter or coffee grounds. Put empty liquid nicotine containers, papers towels, and any other waste into the bag, and throw it away in a trash can kids can’t open. Once everything is in the trash, wash your hands.
- Adults in households with children younger than 6 years old should be counseled on vaping cessation. If adults with young children continue to use e-cigarettes, they are strongly encouraged not to use or store e-cigarettes, liquid nicotine, and related products in the home.
- Save the national Poison Help Line number (1-800-222-1222) in your cell phone and post it near your home phones.
Liquid Nicotine Injury Facts
- On average, every 3 hours a poison center receives a call about a young child exposed to an e-cigarette or liquid nicotine. That’s more than 7 children each day.
- Children exposed to liquid nicotine are more than five times more likely to be admitted to the hospital and two-and-one-half times more likely to have a severe medical outcome than children exposed to traditional cigarettes.
- Children who are younger than 3 years old account for most liquid nicotine exposures.
If you think a child has been exposed to liquid nicotine, call the National Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222. Take a child to the doctor right away if he has been exposed to liquid nicotine and is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Severe stomach pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Fast heart rate and high blood pressure
Liquid Nicotine in the News
- E-cigarette Poisonings in Kids Skyrocket, Study Finds (CNN)
- E-cigarette Poisonings Skyrocket Among Young Kids (CBS News)
- E-Cigarette Poisonings Shot Up 15-Fold In Less Than Four Years (Forbes)
Liquid Nicotine Resources
- Blog: Deadly Substances Teens Use to Get High - May 2015
- Blog: E-cigarettes and Liquid Nicotine: Are They Safe to Use Around Kids? - May 2016
- Blog: E-Cigarette Dangers - January 2014
- Press Release: New Study Finds Child E-Cigarette Exposures up 1,500% - May 9, 2016