E-cigarettes and vaporizers have been hailed as a safe alternative to the carcinogenic ingredients in cigarettes and other tobacco products. To make them more appealing, the alternatives come in a wide variety of yummy flavors and scents. But these flavors appeal to more than just adults looking to quit smoking. Kids are reportedly drinking e-cigarette liquid that is packaged to look like tasty treats and the FDA is warning companies about it. Here's what you need to know to keep your little one safe.
USA Today reported that federal regulators have issued warnings to 13 e-cigarette makers and sellers demanding that they change their packaging and marketing after reports of children consuming the liquid. The FDA believes that some of these companies are knowingly marketing — and even selling — the liquids to children. The packaging in question often resembles products such as juice boxes, candy, or cookies, and some include cartoon images, according to Bloomberg.
A statement by the FDA explained that some of the cited products include “One Mad Hit Juice Box,” which look surprisingly like a real juice box, “Vape Heads Sour Smurf Sauce,” that looks like candy, “V'Nilla Cookies & Milk,” which is easily confused for cookies, “Whip’d Strawberry,” which looks like whipped cream, and “Twirly Pop,” which the FDA stated "not only resembles a Unicorn Pop lollipop but is shipped with one." I don't know about your kids, but I don't know many who wouldn't go for a cookie or piece of candy if they saw one.
Any e-cigarette products are particularly dangerous for young children, as even the small amount of nicotine found in e-cigarette liquid can be deadly, leading to cardiac arrest, seizure, coma, and respiratory failure, according to Healthy Children. While the most common means of poisoning comes from ingestion, children can also be poisoned by getting the substances on their skin. Calls to poison control centers regarding the liquid have been on the rise — 2,452 calls about exposures as of Sept. 30, 2015, according to Healthy Children.
Dr. Kyran Quinlan, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, told Healthy Children that people likely don't realize how dangerous the products are:
These (refills) are being sold in hundreds of different flavors, including flavors and colors that would be absolutely appealing to kids. It's such a small quantity and yet it's so toxic and so deadly. I don't think (people) realize what a deadly toxin they have in their house when they have liquid nicotine.
FDA Commissioner and physician Scott Gottlieb echoed Quinlan's sentiments in the department's official statement, saying:
No child should be using any tobacco product, and no tobacco products should be marketed in a way that endangers kids — especially by using imagery that misleads them into thinking the products are things they’d eat or drink. Looking at these side-to-side comparisons is alarming.
Gottlieb went on to explain that it is up to the manufacturers to protect children from products:
Companies selling these products have a responsibility to ensure they aren’t putting children in harm’s way or enticing youth use. [The FDA will] continue to take action against those who sell tobacco products to youth and market products in this egregious fashion.
Parents, too, play an important role in keeping children safe. Keeping hazardous products out of reach of little ones is a given, but parents should also be aware of the risks. Healthy Children reported that children between the age of 1 and 2 are at the greatest risk, but those up to age 5 are in danger. Symptoms of liquid nicotine poisoning include vomiting, a rapid heartbeat, jittery and unsteady appearance, difficulty breathing, and increased saliva. If you suspect that your child has ingested liquid nicotine, contact your local poison control center immediately.
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