The number of calls to poison centers involving e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine rose from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month this past February, according to a CDC study.
The number of calls per month involving conventional cigarettes did not show a similar increase during the same time period, researchers reported in the April 4 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
More than half (51.1%) of the calls to poison centers due to e-cigarettes involved young children under age 5, and about 42% involved people ages 20 and older.
The analysis compared total monthly poison center calls involving e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes, and found the proportion of e-cigarette calls jumped from 0.3% in September 2010 to 41.7% in February.
Poisoning from conventional cigarettes generally happens when young people eat them, according to the CDC. Poisoning related to e-cigarettes involves the liquid that contains nicotine used in the devices and can occur by ingestion, inhalation or absorption through the skin or eyes.
This report raises another red flag about e-cigarettes the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be hazardous, CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release. Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue. E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof, and they come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children.
E-cigarette calls were more likely than cigarette calls to include a report of an adverse health effect following exposure. The most common adverse health effects mentioned in e-cigarette calls were vomiting, nausea and eye irritation.
Data for this study came from the poison centers that serve the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The study examined all calls reporting exposure to conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes or nicotine liquid used in e-cigarettes. Poison centers reported 2,405 e-cigarette and 16,248 cigarette exposure calls from September 2010 to February 2014. The total number of poisoning cases likely is higher than reflected in the study because not all exposures might have been reported to poison centers.
The most recent National Youth Tobacco Survey showed e-cigarette use is growing fast, and now this report shows e-cigarette-related poisonings are also increasing rapidly, Tim McAfee, MD, MPH, director of the CDCs Office on Smoking and Health, said in the news release.
Healthcare providers, e-cigarette companies and distributors and the general public need to be aware of this potential health risk from e-cigarettes.
Developing strategies to monitor and prevent future poisonings is critical given the rapid in-crease in e-cigarette-related poisonings, according to the CDC. The report shows that e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine have the potential to cause immediate adverse health effects and represent an emerging public health concern.