Hospital toxicologist Ryan Marino has seen up close the violent reactions of children poisoned by liquid nicotine from electronic cigarettes. One young boy who came to his emergency room experienced intense nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, and needed intravenous fluids to treat his dehydration.
Kids can also become dizzy, lose consciousness, and suffer dangerous drops in blood pressure. In the most severe case he’s seen, doctors put another boy on a ventilator in the intensive care unit because he couldn’t breathe, said Marino, of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
Thousands of kids a year are exposed to the liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes, also known as vapes. For a toddler, even a few drops can be fatal.
Cases of vaping-related nicotine exposure reported to poison centers hit an all-time high in 2022 — despite a 2016 law, the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act, that requires child-resistant packaging on bottles of vaping liquid. In what doctors call a major oversight, the law doesn’t require protective packaging on devices themselves.
Refillable vapes are designed to hold liquid nicotine in a central reservoir, making them dangerous to kids, Marino said. Even vapes that appear more child-resistant — because their nicotine is sealed inside a removable cartridge — present a risk, because the cartridges can be pried open. And some disposable e-cigarettes, now the top-selling type on the market, allow users to take thousands of “puffs” and contain as much nicotine as multiple packs of cigarettes.
Many e-cigarettes and l …