WASHINGTON D.C. ― Friday Jan. 29, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall welcomed news that a bill he championed to improve e-cigarette safety has been signed into law by the president.
The Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015 requires manufacturers to put childproof caps on the small bottles of liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes. The number of e-cigarette users — especially young users — has soared in recent years, and this is the first piece of national legislation to help regulate the impact on public health.
According to the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center, 61 liquid nicotine poisonings were reported in 2014, including 40 involving children. In 2015, there were 48 exposures, including 37 involving children. Last year, the New Mexico state legislature passed a similar bill to childproof liquid nicotine containers and ban e-cigarette sales to minors, but Udall has strongly urged a national solution.
Liquid nicotine is sold in concentrated form for use in e-cigarettes, and is often packaged in easy-to-open, brightly-colored vials with appealing flavors, such as Yummy Gummy, Cotton Candy and Tutti Frutti. Just a single teaspoon of highly concentrated liquid nicotine is potent enough to kill a small child, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
“This is a dangerous attempt to market a potentially deadly substance to children by making it appear attractive and harmless — anything cotton candy flavored has an obvious appeal to kids. According to the CDC, e-cigarette use among kids has been rising as spending on marketing has gone up. And it’s having a deadly impact — liquid nicotine products were responsible for over 3,000 poisonings last year,” Udall said. “Childproof caps are a common-sense step in the right direction, but I’ll continue pushing to set clear science-based standards for e-cigarettes just as we do for tobacco-based products. We also urgently need more research about the health effects of e-cigarettes so we can fully understand how nicotine vapor affects smokers long-term, as well as family and friends who may breathe in toxins second-hand.”
More than 466 different brands of e-cigarettes in thousands of flavors have entered the market without any testing. Carcinogens and other toxins have been found in the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes, and poor manufacturing can cause problems like battery leaks and explosions.
The new law directs the Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue rules requiring safer, child-resistant packaging for any liquid nicotine sold to consumers. Udall, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, worked on the legislation with the committee’s lead Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).