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  • Nbc4 investigates: hazards of e-cigarettes – wcmh: news, weather, and sports for columbus, ohio

    Fake news: phillip morris introduces marijuana cigarettes – urban legends
    COLUMBUS, Ohio Electronic cigarettes have become a wildly popular alternative to smoking, but an NBC4 investigation has uncovered a hidden hazard in e cigarettes that some experts said can be deadly especially for young children.

    While the vapor based, battery powered e cigarettes are getting attention, few have paid attention to the liquid nicotine at the center of the device. That liquid can be dangerously concentrated and comes in flavors from chocolate to bubble gum.

    Experts said the liquid could deliver a deadly dose of nicotine to a child.

    NBC4‘s Duane Pohlman “If a toddler is mobile enough and gets his hands on one of these bottles and ingests it, that could kill them?”

    Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center “That would be our worst case scenario, yes.”

    To understand the danger, it’s important to understand how the e cigarette operates.

    The electronics are designed to heat up a liquid and deliver about the same dose of nicotine as you would get from inhaling from a real cigarette.

    But the amount of nicotine in the liquid especially in some refillable vials has experts worried.

    “It’s the dose. These are quite concentrated. The liquid can be up to 20 milligrams to 100 milligrams per milliliter,” Spiller said.

    At the highest concentration, that equals the amount of nicotine in six packs of cigarettes.

    “It’s nicotine, and nicotine is quite toxic,” Spiller said. “Basically, nicotine is a nerve poison.”

    The liquid nicotine comes in a seemingly endless number of flavors, including bubble gum, cherry, and chocolate that are irresistible to children.

    “When you’re 2 and 3 years old, it’s very attractive. You just smell it. I mean, it is bubble gum. It depends on how much they ingest and if they ingest a lot, we’re frightened,” Spiller said.

    Even if the child doesn’t drink the liquid, nicotine can be absorbed directly through the skin.

    At the Central Ohio Poison Center, Spiller said calls from people suffering the effects of high levels of nicotine exposure from e cigarettes are starting to increase.

    The numbers increased from six in 2011, to seven in 2012, and then eight in 2013.

    Already in January 2014, there were four calls on the exposure.

    “We’ve had four go to the hospital. Three were discharged, one was admitted. They’re stumbling because it is a nerve toxin. They’re vomiting and have abdominal pain,” Spiller said.

    There are no laws to keep the liquid away from kids, but some e cigarette establishments, like AltSmoke, a high end store on High Street, are taking every precaution.

    There are child proof caps on the vials and restrictions on ages for purchasing. Only adults over 18 years old can buy the items.

    They also keep doses of nicotine to a maximum of 24 mg, and warn customers to keep the liquid out of reach.

    “We tell people to keep them away from their pets and children,” said Frank Cahall, of AltSmoke.

    But not all outlets are as responsible, and that worries Spiller, who said the liquid nicotine is a tragic accident waiting to happen.

    “We’re concerned that as these spread, as more and more of these are available in the home, the next one could be unintentional, could be a child,” Spiller said.

    NBC4 spoke to Scientific Director of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke free Alternatives Association Dr. Carl V. Phillips.

    While Phillips said the lethal dose of nicotine is actually higher than what many experts claim, he acknowledged that e cigarettes can be harmful if mishandled.

    Phillips released the following statement to NBC4