E-Cigarettes Liquid Nicotine Exposure Danger


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that the number of calls to Poison Control Centers related to e-cigarettes is significantly on the rise. Initial tracking of these numbers disclosed an average of one call per month in 2010. However, that number has grown to nearly 200 calls per month thus far in 2014. Dr. Kevin Chatham-Stephen, pediatrician and epidemiologist with the CDC, authored the report, which states in part that while e-cigarette use totals less than 2 percent of all tobacco-related sales, the number exceeds more than 40 percent of poison center calls. 51 percent of those calls involve children 5 years of age and younger who were dangerously exposed to the liquid nicotine inside the e-cigarette cylinder.

Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center, opines the scent of the vapor and the color are attractive to children and they are not going to know the difference between something that is poison and something they can drink. Poisonings can occur via the ingestion process through the skin or eyes. Symptoms of poisoning may include nausea and eye irritation. Lopez’s poison center has received complaints from people who have merely spilled the liquid nicotine on themselves.

The CDC has documented the toxicity of the substance when a person who injected himself to commit suicide had used it. In 2011 the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about potential health risks associated with e-cigarettes after tests revealed the presence of known cancer-causing substances. The CDC report documents the danger of immediate physical harm that can be caused by direct exposure to the liquid nicotine inside e-cigarette cylinders. Authorities on the subject are in apparent agreement that there have not been enough studies to produce sufficient data to make any specific health claims.

Notwithstanding, according to American Lung Association president and CEO Harold P. Wimmer, marketing of the product with flavors such as Bazooka Bubble Gum, Cap’n Crunch, Banana, and Cotton Candy are now available. He also cites the CDC report that revealed the use of e-cigarettes among high school and middle school-aged students doubled in just one year: that 1 in 10 high school students have used an e-cigarette, and nationwide 1.78 million middle and high school students are e-cigarette smokers.

According to Mr. Wimmer, nicotine is a substance proven to be highly addictive and when 400,000 cigarette smokers die each year and thousands more quit smoking, tobacco companies are faced with the need to replace those who were once regular paying customers. He stated, “The industry needs to attract and addict thousands of children each day, as well as keep adults dependent to maintain its huge profits.” Although he acknowledged that harmful effects from exposure to the secondhand vapor emitted from e-cigarettes is unknown, he cited two studies that found formaldehyde, benzene, and tobacco-specific carcinogens present in vapor emissions.

As a result of the documented increase in the use of the devices, particularly among young people, the drastic increase in calls to poison centers, and the unknown harmful effects of exposure of e-cigarette vapor, independent health groups like the American Lung Association, are calling upon the government to step in and regulate the devices. However, advocates of the e-cigarette claim that some health experts believe they might be useful in helping people who want to quit smoking.

Consequently, they are urging the FDA not to take control over what they are calling a life-saving product. The FDA responded that without regulation there would be no way to determine what nicotine compounds are being added to e-cigarettes that may or may not be dangerous when someone is directly exposed to the liquid or the vapor it emits. Most will agree that cigarettes have long been understood to pose serious health problems and the marketing of the e-cigarette has included the idea that they are a quit-smoking aid. However, manufacturers contradicted this marketing strategy when they fought the FDA’s attempt to regulate e-cigarettes in the production of a quit-smoking aid, and defeated the FDA in federal appeals court.

By Mark Politi

ABC News
New York Times
Mayo Clinic
Business Week
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9 Responses to "E-Cigarettes Liquid Nicotine Exposure Danger"

  1. Mark Politi   July 19, 2014 at 8:50 am

    @ Peter – Again a very thoughtful comment. Thank you. As we both join in world opinion that smoking kills, I do commend all who have become addicted to smoking tobacco products for their efforts to quit. One of the resources you cited acknowledges that in the UK, the vast majority of smokers started smoking as children. How many more children would have started smoking if candy flavors were available to them as they are in e-cigarettes? Clearly, the introduction of an addictive substance to children is the motivation behind such nefarious marketing tactics.

    The other resource describes the marketing of e-cigarettes more as a lifestyle rather than a medical product. Notwithstanding Public Health England’s stance that e-cigarettes are less harmful than combustible cigarettes, I remain concerned with its interpretation that something “less harmful” is a “health benefit.” I think referring to e-cigarettes as “less harmful,” if true, would suffice. I say if true only because the product is not yet mature enough to have produced long term effects that can be evaluated. I am concerned also by Public Health England’s claim that e-cigarettes offer “vast” potential health benefits. Vast health benefits?

    As I mentioned, perhaps they would have made a less subjective point if they had simply left it at “less harmful.”

    Be well my friend.

  2. Peter Cummings   July 19, 2014 at 7:14 am

    As much as i agree or disagree with what you have published in response to my comments – the fact is simply this

    “Smoking kills, and millions of smokers alive today will die prematurely from their
    smoking unless they quit. This burden falls predominantly on the most disadvantaged
    in society. Preventing this death and disability requires measures that help as many of
    today’s smokers to quit as possible. The option of switching to electronic cigarettes as
    an alternative and much safer source of nicotine, as a personal lifestyle choice rather
    than medical service, has enormous potential to reach smokers currently refractory to
    existing approaches. The emergence of electronic cigarettes and the likely arrival of
    more effective nicotine-containing devices currently in development provides a radical
    alternative to tobacco, and evidence to date suggests that smokers are willing to use
    these products in substantial numbers. Electronic cigarettes, and other nicotine
    devices, therefore offer vast potential health benefits, but maximising those benefits
    while minimising harms and risks to society requires appropriate regulation, careful
    monitoring, and risk management. However the opportunity to harness this potential
    into public health policy, complementing existing comprehensive tobacco control
    policies, should not be missed.” Public Health England

    I suggest your readers look and read the published papers in the public domain below as this contains recent research commisione and currently being emphasized at government level.


    It is in part one of the reasons I as an ex-smoker who uses e-cigarettes quit smoking in the first place. Millions of e-cigarette users will testify the same. In the same fashion if those who think e-cigarettes are harmful either to users or bystanders (whether more or less is yet to be proven) put their money into proving their claims instead of just spouting smokescreens for which the burden falls upon the e-cigarette and e-liquid manufacturer to prove otherwise, then most of the comments and published news stories would be irrelevant and the public would then be able to make an informed decision.

  3. Mark Politi   July 19, 2014 at 6:29 am

    @ Peter Cummings – Thank you for taking the time to read this article and for submitting such a thoughtful comment. I appreciate and agree with the economics aspect that you noted, however, we will have to agree to disagree about your unsubstantiated claim that there are health benefits with the use of e-cigarettes and that they actually save lives. It is absolutely premature and perhaps irresponsible for anyone to make such a claim at this point in the life of the product.

    I understand the sentiment of your comment and where you were going with it. While the greed and revenue aspects of e-cigarettes are readily quantifiable, until there is a significant look-back period on the long term effects e-cigarettes has on the human body, there are still many years of study that is needed before any determination can be made that the e-cigarette has any health benefits or saves lives, especially since the CDC has already published a report that e-cigarettes are responsible for the documented loss of life.

    Back in the day the general public was exposed to cigarette advertising in television commercials, magazine, newspaper, billboard ads etc. depicting doctors smoking this or that brand of cigarette with the message to the effect that, “Doctors prefer to smoke this brand.”

    Since then, advertising and the tobacco industry have undoubtedly learned their lesson after losing multi-billion dollar law suits. This supports your comment, and is largely responsible for the huge taxes placed on tobacco products that are, in part, used to subsidize the health care industry for the cost of tobacco related health care problems.

    Since you readily acknowledge that “more and more research is carried out,” one must logically acknowledge that the purpose for which it is being carried out is to learn more about it. We don’t know what we don’t know until we know it. The purpose of the article is to inform the public of the results of professionally conducted studies and to disclose some of the dangers of e-cigarettes. I am not yet aware of any studies that document any health benefits from the use of e-cigarettes. Are you? It would be incorrect to consider the claim that e-cigarettes kill fewer people than regular cigarettes a health benefit, even if the comparison were borne out to be true.

    Here at the Guardian Liberty Voice, our writers must comply with the strictest journalism standards and editor scrutiny. The content of this article is supported by professional sources, (links available below the article), studies, and government agencies. Hence, your inference that claims in this article are unsubstantiated and that the numbers referred to are meaningless or taken out of context, are baseless and you cite no authority. But I do respect your opinion.

    Your interpretation of the facts as presented here as a “scaremongering” tactic to ban or prevent the use of e-cigarettes, should probably be re-thought. I am not certain what your suggestion would be to the CDC to do with its findings. I certainly hope you would not have them hide the findings in a drawer somewhere for fear of being criticized and labeled as “scaremongerers.”

    It would be interesting to look into the future and see the long term effects of the use of e-cigarettes and determine whether they were found to have health benefits or saved any lives. Until then, Peter, the jury is still deliberating. It would be both ironic and tragic if e-cigarettes ended up becoming more addictive and claimed more lives than regular garden variety cigarettes.

    I wrote about this topic because the public is ill-informed to give this product a clean bill of health in spite of the hype it is being given by its users. Nonetheless, Peter, you are correct that there are only two sides of the story. Which side are you on? Thank you very much for contributing.

  4. Peter Cummings   July 19, 2014 at 4:16 am

    Its hardly a surprise to see the scaremongers coming out of the woodwork – after all the bottom line is not the health and safety of users and bystanders of e-cigarettes which if anyone was being frank and honest far outweigh the known effects of conventional cigarettes – no this is all about the money.

    The tobacco companies create a product that ultimately kills people and are taxed by governments for the priviledge – the pharmaceuticals create products that attempt to heal or inhibit the effects of the tobacco products who in turn are licenced and pay revenue to governments and the governments themselves collect revenues from everything from provider to enduser – a multi-trillion pound/dollar money making enterprise.

    The e-cigarette currently provides revenue only to its manufacturers and savings to the consumer but is likely to be taxed in the near future by governments such as in the UK who plan to issue an 80% duty on e-cigarettes as a result of lost revenue. So the issue here is clearly how much money not how many lives can be saved.

    Its a fact that when e-cigarettes came onto the market no one realised the impact they would have – from the tobacco companies to the pharmaceuticals and right to the heart of governments.

    The politics of the day is demonstrating its corruption and greed instead of supporting something that invariably will save lives. The fact remains that as more and more research is carried out (not necessarily unbiased either) the results are all indicating that there are significant differences and noted health benefits in using e-cigarettes instead of conventional cigarettes.

    The fact also remains that e-cigarettes do need regulation in as much as buying an aspirin or unprescribed medicine over the counter – ensuring a safe means of choice and use and not necessarily to govern and hinder but to help protect both the consumer, bystander and manufacturer and in this the majority of genuine manufacturers agree. The sooner the better – as this will help keep the rogue products out of the marketplace.

    So setting aside personal interests, investing in peoples health and providing the means for people to do this safely and freely – is the moral high ground.

    Scaremongering people into banning or preventing e-cigarettes use, providing unsubstatiated claims hidden within meaningless numbers or taken out of context and sometimes just telling plain downright lies, filling the purse from human suffering and addiction after promoting the cause of the misery in the first place – makes this what? Justified, morally upright, irreprehensible or just downright immoral.

    There are only two sides – there is no middle fence – you are what you do! So which side are you?

  5. E cigarette   June 15, 2014 at 3:21 am

    This is why I ALWAYS go with the pre packaged e cigarettes instead of the DIY e liquid ones. It is a danger. Some child recently got killed in the Middle East (I believe Israel) when he consumed e liquid.

  6. luke   June 9, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    And what about the millions of people who die from smoking normal cigarettes. How many house fire call outs do the firestation have because of people falling to sleep and dropping there tobacco cigarettes on the carpet.This is stupid the health benefits of an E cig far exceed tobacco. There is over 2000 carcinogens in a normal cig! I would rather have my children smoking E cigs behind the school toilets than tobacco. My grandmother died of lung cancer because of smoking! If E cigs had been invented before her death maybe she could of lived a few more years later. Smoking is dead people. Vaping is the future and the future is now.

  7. mark3986   June 9, 2014 at 9:13 am

    @ Elaine Keller – Thank you for contributing. Your exception to the statistic cited in this article is noted. Perhaps if you read this press release coming directly from the CDC itself


    you will better understand the serious health risks, especially to children, that e-cigarettes pose. Convincing the public that these are real dangers is EXACTLY what needs to be accomplished.

    Also, nowhere in the article does it mention child fatalities.

    What percent increase is it by your math from one e-cigarette poisoning call to the CDC in September 2010 to 215 calls in February 2014? Since e-cigarettes are as yet unregulated, nobody has a clue what substances are being added to liquid nicotine. Consequently, It would probably not be wise to defend the use of e-cigarettes in the face of the increasing number of liquid nicotine poisonings occurring every month when you wouldn’t even know what you were defending. If you need additional clarification or would like to dispute the CDC’s findings, the telephone number for the CDC Media Relations is (404) 639-3286.

  8. Elaine Keller   June 9, 2014 at 6:45 am

    I’m having trouble following the claim that calls about e-cigarettes “exceeds more than 40 percent of poison center calls.” In 2012, 3,373,025 closed encounters were logged. Fewer than 2/10 of 1% of those calls involved any type of tobacco product. At 200 calls per month about e-cigarettes, it would take more than 562 years to reach forty percent of all calls. Most calls to the poison control centers are from people seeking information, not reports of dangerous exposures. Let’s stop playing games with numbers, trying to convince the public that numerous children are dying (or even being seriously injured) from e-cigarette poisonings. None of the 65 pediatric fatalities reported for 2012 were caused by any type of tobacco or nicotine product. Fumes, medications and household cleaning products are the major causes of pediatric poisoning deaths.

  9. Baxa0641vo   June 6, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    E cigarettes liquid nicotine


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