More than 120 cases of children ingesting liquid nicotine have been reported in Washington. On Thursday, the Senate Health Care Committee met for a work session to discuss a solution to the growing problem.
According to Dr. Alexander Garrard from the Washington State Poison Center, less than a mouthful of liquid nicotine can poison a child, causing nausea, vomiting and an increased heart rate in small children. Larger doses induce seizures and coma and, in one case where the liquid was injected through an IV, death.
Liquid nicotine is used in e-cigarettes and vape pens. These battery operated smoking devices are equipped with an atomizer. Inhaling triggers the atomizer which then vaporizes, or “vapes,” the liquid nicotine.
Liquid nicotine comes in an array of flavors and can be very fragrant. To small children, it can resemble candy. The concentration of nicotine in the liquids varies by product, but as Garrard pointed out the various products are rarely, if ever, labeled with an amount of nicotine content.
Both health industry professionals and officials from e-cigarette/vape manufacturers agreed on a solution to the problem: child resistant lids and clear product labels. Marc Jarrett, a co-owner of Bonzai E-liquids in Lakewood and a father of three, said child safety is not only a primary concern of his, it’s important to his business partners and to his e-cigarette and vape industry colleagues. “While we do understand there is no set regulation ... we believe content warning labels should be available and child resistant caps and tamper evidence strips should be standard fare for a bottle of e-liquid," he said, adding, "But something that is missing from the conversation is education for the parents purchasing the product.”
“Warning labels have been agreed on universally in our corner of the industry,” said Kyle Chapman with Mt. Baker Vapor in Bellingham. “We would like to request that child safety proof caps are made into an industry standard, 100 percent.” Chapman noted that every bottle of liquid cigarette fluid Mt. Baker manufactures comes with a child resistant lid.
As with all adult recreational substances, these products should be kept out of the reach of children. The final burden of responsibility, said Chapmen, lies with the consumer.
Holly Chisa with the national e-cigarette company NJOY struggled in front of the committee as she attempted to remove a child resistant cap from one of the products. State Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-25th District, admitted that he had struggled to get the lid off too. He is confident that legislation to protect children from liquid nicotine will come up during the 2015 session.