Though promoted over the past decade as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes, the Electronic Cigarette or e-cigarette has claimed its first victim. A one-year old baby ingested the e-cigarette refill fluid and was later found to be unresponsive. He was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead shortly thereafter. The police are referring to this as a “tragic accident”, however long-time opponents point to the lack of regulation and easy-access packaging as the root causes contributing to this tragedy.
E-cigarettes contain nicotine, however they are thought to be less harmful as they do not toxins through combustion as do traditional cigarettes. The fluids are sold in various candy flavors, which is inherently attractive to children. Combine that with easy-open bottles and no child-proofing, more disasters may be on the horizon.
Advocates of e-cigarette usage say these products aid smokers in their efforts to quit. With sales of $2.5 billion and rising and the increases in youth use, legislators and public-health officials are concerned about the long-term effects of these products. There may be cause for concern. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a study in 2013 of e-cigarette use by 20,000 middle and high school students. Middle school usage remained flat from 2012 to 2013; high school usage rose greater than 2%. As the findings of the study were released, representatives of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) work to introduce legislation to ban sales of the e-cigarette to anyone under the age of 18.
Because of the lack of studies on e-cigarettes, consumers don’t know:
Though the FDA is not currently regulating electronic cigarettes, the agency receives voluntary adverse effects reports from users across the nation. Included in the reports are instances of the following:
It is not known whether or not e-cigarettes were the sole cause of these events or if they were a contributing factor to a pre-existing medical condition. At the forefront of conversation is youth use of these products. So much so that in correspondence to the FDA last month six U.S. senators urged the implementation of stronger warning labels on e-cigarette packaging as well as a ban on marketing to minors.
Manufacturers deny targeting youth and point to their efforts to advertise only on adult-verified programming and having retailers place products behind the sales counter to limit sales to adults. The infant who died was not positively impacted by these efforts. Maybe more needs to be done to alter the taste of the fluid so as not to be so appealing or even more advantageous – change the packaging to make it more difficult for children to open. For adults who use these products and have small children in their charge, it is important to keep these and any other harmful materials out of children’s reach.
The attorneys at Steinger, Iscoe, & Greene have dealt with tragic cases of all kinds, but the death of a loved-one is the most devastating. When that death is preventable, it is even more disconcerting. If you or a loved-one has been harmed by a product, the caring and knowledgeable advocates at Steinger, Iscoe, & Greene are here to provide a free case evaluation.
Above all, we encourage parents and caretakers to be as diligent in anti-electronic-cigarette discussions with their adolescents as they are with anti-smoking and anti-drug discussions. After all, our most important job is to protect our most vulnerable – our children – safe and out of harm’s way.
Photo Credit: http://vapegrl.com/e-cigarette-flavors/