More headaches for e-cigarette makers as Western Pennsylvania cancer specialists have thrown their support behind more stringent control of the $2 billion electronic cigarette market. The growing calls to poison control centers is being blame on it. The Pittsburgh Poison Center in Oakland received 135 calls in 2014 for exposure to e-cigarettes and their nicotine-laced liquid cartridges, up from 18 calls in 2013 and one in 2009.
More than 50 percent of calls received in 2014 involved children who are 6 years old and even younger, according to medical director Michael Lynch. Most of the cases were not serious just nausea and gastrointestinal distress. What worries him most is the packaging technique which can easily be mistaken for candy wrappers by children. The storage is another source of problem.
“Even just a real small volume can cause potentially serious or fatal effects, which is why we’re concerned with their availability and ease of access,” Dr. Lynch said of the nicotine liquids. “It doesn’t have to be swallowed to be toxic.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta noticed more calls from all over the country with regards to e cigarettes including that of a toddler from New York who died from ingesting e nicotine. He was the first child to die of e cigarettes related incidents.
The American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Clinical Oncology asked for a more rigid set of laws nationwide, including compulsory childproof caps on e- nicotine cartridges and possibly the banning “youth-friendly” flavors.
Dr. Nancy Davidson praised the action explaining that “we don’t have any idea” whether the devices are safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes”. Lynch also asked parents to place the e-cigarettes in a safe place away from the children’s reach.
“I think our goal has to be to keep people away from tobacco and nicotine, the addictive part of tobacco, and e-cigarettes don’t help with that,” said Davidson, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.
Supporters of E-cigarettes argued that the proposed regulations are an overkill against a growing business that could help smokers stop their habit.
“Anytime there’s a potential for overregulation — and particularly in this case, where we have the potential for a huge public benefit — we want to tread carefully and not lose sight of the potential upside,” said Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association in Washington.
She said “no evidence” shows that the candy-like flavors are attractive to children.
Cabrera and other supporters said, “Many of the estimated 6 million adult e-cigarette users in the United States seek out the sweet-sounding varieties”. Advertising for e cigarettes increased to $79 million in 2013, up 278 percent from 2012, according to London-based Kantar Media.
E-cigarette supporters refer to it a pioneering invention which is less dangerous compared to tobacco smoking because it has fewer toxic ingredients. Health officials expressed their opinion stating that research efforts are not up to date regarding e cigarettes health effects. .
E-cigarette manufacturers said they have nothing against regulations and they hope they can find common talking points with the authorities which includes the minimum age requirements.
“There’s absolutely no doubt that some regulation is needed and will come into force,” said Oliver Kershaw, founder of San Francisco-based vaping.com.