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article imageCongress passes bill requiring childproof liquid nicotine bottles

By Megan Hamilton     Jan 13, 2016 in Politics
Washington - It's called the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act, and it's intended to keep kids safer by making it more difficult for sticky little fingers to get into yummy-looking but highly toxic liquid nicotine.
Congress passed the measure on Monday.
Now it goes to the White House to await President Obama's signature, Consumerist reports.
The bill was introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), and it places liquid nicotine in with other substances covered by the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970; meaning that it requires the use of childproof bottles.
In recent years, consumer advocates, health officials and lawmakers have voiced concerns over the use of liquid nicotine, which is used to refill e-cigarettes, Consumerist notes. Reports indicate kids are at a higher risk of death from coming into contact with nicotine, which is highly toxic. This is because they may be attracted to the product's brightly colored packaging and flavors.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) lauded Congress for passing the Act.
There are 55 poison centers in the U.S., and their data shows that e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine refills are implicated in an uptick of exposures reported to poison centers. Some 59 percent of all e-cigarette and liquid nicotine exposures reported to poison centers were for kids aged five or under in 2014. For 2015, preliminary analysis shows that children made up about 70 percent of these exposures, which means there were roughly 2,600 cases reported.
How toxic is nicotine?
The AAPCC reports that it can cause acute nicotine toxicity — just one teaspoon of liquid nicotine can be deadly to a child. Smaller amounts can cause severe illness that often involves visits to a hospital emergency room. Nausea and vomiting are the most significant symptoms. Liquid nitrogen can even be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin or eyes.
This bill is believed to be the first federal regulation Congress has passed regarding e-cigarettes, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Liquid nicotine is usually sold in bottles that are used with refillable cigarettes that heat the liquid until it becomes a vapor that can be inhaled.
The e-cigarette industry is burgeoning, having ballooned to an estimated $3.5 billion in sales. The industry's growth has been in sync with the surge in the number of poisoning cases due to liquid nicotine. In 2012, 460 cases were reported, while in 2014, the number rose to 3,783 reported cases. In 2015, that number fell to 3,067, the Journal reported, citing statistics from the AAPCC.
While the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association represents the vaping industry, it supports this legislation and is encouraging members to voluntarily make the packaging childproof. The organization supports the idea of a nation-wide standard as opposed to a variety of state childproof packaging laws that could be onerous for national liquid nicotine manufacturers.
"It's common sense," Cynthia Cabrera, president of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, told the Journal. "These are adult products and should be treated like adult products."
This will slightly increase the cost of a bottle cap for manufacturers by about six to 12 cents, said Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, which is an industry-funded lobbying group. The cost to producers would be "minimal" he said.
The AAPCC recommends that parents keep all tobacco and e-cigarette products out of reach and out of sight of children. It also recommends that parents program the Poison Helpline number (1-800-222-1222) on mobile phones and post the number in a place where it can be easily seen.
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