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State to Launch Campaign Against "Vaping"

PHOTO: The number of calls to poison-control centers about electronic cigarette incidents more than doubled last year, which has prompted the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to call on the Food and Drug Administration to finalize regulations. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
PHOTO: The number of calls to poison-control centers about electronic cigarette incidents more than doubled last year, which has prompted the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to call on the Food and Drug Administration to finalize regulations. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
January 29, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The state wants to educate the public about the negative health effects of electronic cigarettes. Public health officials point to recent reports that found the number of calls to poison-control centers about e-cigarette incidents more than doubled last year.

A report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers also found children younger than age six were the victims in more than half the cases. The rise in calls has the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to finalize its proposed rule to regulate the products.

Campaign vice president of communications Vince Willmore says the agency also needs to crack down on companies' marketing and flavors, such as "gummy bear" and bubble gum.

"Given how they're being marketed, and given these sweet flavors, it's not surprising more kids are using e-cigarettes," says Willmore. "They're attracted to nicotine liquids and being poisoned by them."

This week, state Senator Mark Leno introduced a bill that would prohibit "vaping" e-cigarettes in bars, restaurants, hospitals and other workplaces. Also, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer sent a letter to the Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors on Wednesday, thanking them for their efforts to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes on BART trains and stations.

Willmore says the colors and packaging of e-cigarettes also appeal to kids, yet nicotine is highly dangerous and not only because of potential addiction.

"Nicotine is a very toxic substance," he says. "Exposure to even small amounts of nicotine, whether it's through the skin or through ingestion, can cause vomiting and seizures. Unfortunately, it can even be lethal."

A 1-year-old child in New York died last month after swallowing liquid nicotine. Willmore says the FDA should require childproof packaging, and adults need to keep the devices and supplies out of sight and out of reach of children.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA