E-cigarettes, or e-cigs, have skyrocketed in popularity. According to Statistic Brain, there are about 2.5 million e-cig smokers now. In 2008, the industry made $20 million in sales. In 2014, it’s projected to make $1.7 billion.
Despite the intense surge in popularity these smoking alternatives are experiencing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has delayed passing any form of regulation. That may be set to change, however, in part because of a recent tragedy.
On December 9, a one-year-old from Fort Plain in upstate New York died after ingesting liquid nicotine, which is sold separately from e-cigarettes. After he was found unresponsive, the boy was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. He’s believed to be the first child to die from e-cig related products.
E-cigarette regulation has been an issue for a while, but has largely flown under the radar since the FDA proposed new regulations this past August. However, the toddler’s death has reignited the push for a more regulated industry.
“One teaspoon of liquid nicotine could be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts can cause severe illness, often requiring trips to the emergency department,” said a statement from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). “Despite the dangers these products pose to children, there are currently no standards set in place that require child-proof packaging.”
Nicotine exposure rates have also leapt since 2011, according to the AAPCC. Whether it was through ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through skin, there were only 271 cases of exposure to liquid nicotine that year. As of the end of November this year, there’d already been 3,638 exposures in 2014 alone.
“They’re not that difficult to get into,” Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s poison control center director Dr. Donna Seger.
To make matters worse, the bottles are attractive to children. Not only do they come in such flavors as cotton candy and chocolate, but the liquids are also bright and colorful, making them look even more like candy.
Though some states have already begun to implement childproof packaging, New York state has no such law. Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, is expected to sign a bill similar to these other states’ in the coming weeks.