Jump in youth e-cigarette poisonings prompts state health warning

E-cigarette liquid
A sales associate fills an electronic cigarette with flavored E liquid at the Vapor Shark store on February 20, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Nicotine poisonings linked to e-cigarettes rose tenfold among Minnesota children last year, and state health officials are warning parents to keep e-cigarette nicotine vials away from kids.

The poisoning cases included children who swallowed or inhaled high levels of e-cigarette liquids, known as e-juice. Kids who spilled e-cigarette liquid nicotine in their eyes or on their skin were also included in the data released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Most of the 50 poisonings in 2013 involved children younger than six. None resulted in death, but they could have, said Kirk Hughes, education director for the Hennepin Regional Poison Center.

"We want people to be responsible and put these things up high and out of sight, or preferably locked up, as with any type of medication or potential poison in the home," Hughes said.

E-cigarettes, he added, are especially tempting to young kids who may mistake them as candy. "With these new kind of e-juices, they come in lots of fun flavors like bubble gum and grape and cotton candy. They're more attractive to children."

There is no state or federal law requiring e-cigarette liquid manufacturers to use child-resistant packaging.

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