Electronic cigarette refills are becoming a major hazard for toddlers and young children. A group of doctors have today called for the cartridges to be designed more safely so that toddlers don’t accidentally swallow the liquid nicotine inside the cartridges. The doctors are also strongly advising parents to keep their e-cigs out of reach.
As e-cigarette refills are not medicines, they are not required to have child-proof locks. However, they contain nicotine, which is highly potent and dangerous if swallowed as a liquid. The size, shape and colour of the refills are proving very attractive to little hands and mouths.
The doctors wrote in the Archives of Disease in Childhood after a UK toddler, aged two and a half, was admitted to Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham after swallowing an e-cigarette cartridge.
Her mum grabbed the e-cigarette off her daughter as soon as she saw what had happened and the girl vomited, but she was taken to A&E to check for signs of nicotine poisoning. Luckily, the girl was given the all clear after six hours.
However, liquid nicotine is very dangerous, especially to small children. Effects can include burning in the mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting, confusion and dizziness.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US spoke earlier this year about a huge rise in phone calls to poison help centres about children swallowing nicotine in the cartridge refills .
In 2010, they received one call a month but by February 2014 this number had risen to 215. More than half of these calls involved children under five.
Severe nicotine poisoning can cause heart attack, coma, convulsions and death.
“The exploratory nature of young children and the attractive packaging of refills is a dangerous combination,” says lead doctor, Dr Sanjay Gupta.
Their advice? Keep your e-cigarette nicotine refills in a safe place, out of reach of your child.