E-cigarettes: A household poison?

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Type: News

Date Published: 03/31/2014

As little as a teaspoon of liquid nicotine — the key ingredient in electronic cigarettes — can kill a small child and less than a tablespoon, at high concentrations, can kill an adult. E-cigarettes are unregulated and little is known about the harmful effects of their use. What is known is that the 'e-liquids' (nicotine, flavorings, solvents) used to refill them are powerful neurotoxins and the reports of accidental poisonings are soaring.

The New York Times described the risk in an article published on March 23, 2014. In an editorial published the next day, the NY Times Editorial Board called for federal action.

"We need public health actions to keep children from being exposed to vials of highly-concentrated nicotine that are purchased for use in e-cigarettes," commented ORI scientist and tobacco researcher, Herb Severson, Ph.D.

Severson and his team are investigating the use of e-cigarettes among young adults and are looking at what messages might be effective in reducing the use of e-cigs among teens.

"We want to both assess the use and perceptions of risk among high school students and also develop and evaluate the impact of messages designed to change perceptions of risk for using e-cigs," says Severson.