The Alabama Poison Control Center is seeing a surge of nicotine poisoning cases stemming from the escalating popularity of vaping , which many smokers have turned to in recent years as a reportedly safer alternative to conventional cigarettes.
Most of the Alabamians being poisoned from vaping products aren’t actually those who themselves vape, but children who are exposed to the nicotine-laden e-juice that goes into the devices.
Liquid nicotine products are available in a range of sweet, candy-like flavors and the packaging is sometimes alluring to children.
The Alabama Poison Control Center told WAFF Huntsville that it saw a total of 23 nicotine poisoning cases between 2010 and 2013, but in 2014 alone there have been nearly 70 cases so far.
The trend is the same nationwide, with poison centers reporting about one nicotine poisoning case per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014.
Although children can be poisoned by drinking the nicotine fluid, all it takes is for them to get the concentrated liquid on their skin, where it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. And it doesn’t take a lot. Just a few drops are enough to sicken or even kill a child.
The symptoms of nicotine poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, hypertension, quickened heartbeat, headache, dizziness, and loss of muscle control. Past the initial stimulatory phase, symptoms can worsen to include low blood pressure and diminished heart rate, central nervous system depression, extreme weakness, difficulty breathing, coma, and death.
Although it would be very difficult to die of nicotine poisoning from smoking (0.5-1.0 mg per kg for adults and just 0.1 mg per kg for children), lethal levels can be quickly reached through ingestion or skin absorption of nicotine fluid.
Most nicotine refill bottles come with childproof lids, but they have not been able to stop children from becoming poisoned. Adults who vape nicotine should be careful not to get the e-juice on their skin, and they should keep the vape devices and e-juice refills in a safe place, completely out of the reach of any children.