More Minnesota children and teenagers were poisoned by e-cigarette liquid last year than in 2012.
The Department of Health reports there were five reports of e-cigarette related poisoning in 2012. Last year, that number jumped to 50.
E-cigarette poisonings accounted for 23 percent of the state’s 218 teen and child tobacco-related poisonings in 2013.
Poisonings include calls where e-cigarette liquids, also known as e-juice, have been swallowed, inhaled, come in contact with the eyes or absorbed through the skin.
Health officials say children may mistake the liquid vials with candy and drink it.
The liquid can contain levels of nicotine that are fatal for children. And some flavors - like cotton candy, bubble gum and grape - could appeal to kids.
The agency says the Poison Control System received several calls in 2013 involved toddlers and infants who had swallowed e-juice, while some involved teenagers who had been using e-cigarettes.
“Fortunately, none of the poisonings hospitalized or seriously injured children in 2013. But given the rise in poisonings, we really want parents to know that this liquid nicotine can pose a fatal risk and that they should store it out of the reach of children,” says Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger.
Currently, there is no state or federal law requiring manufacturers of e-juice to disclose ingredients or require child-resistant packaging.
“We think of concentrated nicotine as a very serious poison, equivalent to dangerous prescription drugs,” says Stacey Bangh, Clinical Supervisor at the Hennepin Regional Poison Center. “Given this rate of increase, it’s not a matter of if a child will be harmed by these products, but when.”
State lawmakers are considering a bill that would would include a ban on e-cigarettes in public places.
Minnpost reports 27 states, including Minnesota, ban e-cigarettes for minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three states – North Dakota, Utah and New Jersey — ban smoking e-cigarettes indoors.
Check out these Department of Health poisoning stats: