Parents using e-cigarettes around kids warned about dangers of liquid nicotine

INDIANAPOLIS - As e-cigarettes usage becomes more widespread, health officials are warning parents to be mindful about using them around small children.

Although e-cigarettes are used by some people who want to quit smoking or for those looking for something less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, health professionals say the ingredients may put small children at risk.

Dr. Jennifer Barker at St. Vincent Hospital said that the e-cigarettes contain dangerous chemicals.

"We see poisonings everyday here in the emergency department for household cleaners to makeup to medicines. (An e-cigarette) is going to be a very dangerous chemical that we're going to have kids have access to," Barker said.

One of the ingredients, liquid nicotine, comes in more than 200 flavors including raspberry, key lime, and peaches and cream. But the Centers for Disease Control and the American Association of Poison Control Centers say the names contradict the hidden risks.

In 2013, the number of overdose cases increased by more than 300 percent over 2012. In 2014, nicotine overdose cases are projected to jump another 100 percent.

Dr. Joel Zivot said the chemicals inside the e-cigarettes should be regulated.

"The delivery device itself is maybe in the beginning stages. I think more thoughtful regulation is needed. It is a chemical. As a chemical, it should be regulated as to how it's taken," Zivot said.

America's Poison Control Centers urge parents to protect their skin when handling liquid nicotine to prevent exposure to children and pets. When it comes to liquid nicotine, the danger to children is not just drinking it, but simple contact with the skin.

"I don't want to scare people unnecessarily about a product, but I truly think this is going to have kids die from inadvertent overdoses. I think it's worth getting the message out that this is a scary substance," Zivot said.

Poison control experts urge e-cigarette users to protect their skin, keep the devices and liquid nicotine out of the hands of children and closely follow the disposal directions on the label.

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