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New law prevents liquid nicotine sale to minors

Posted at 10:29 AM, Dec 30, 2014
and last updated 2015-12-25 10:29:10-05

After a toddler’s death in New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a new law to prohibit the sale of liquid nicotine to minors and requiring childproof containers.

Earlier this month, a 1-year-old boy ingested liquid nicotine, the chemical used in electronic cigarettes, and later died.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of calls to poison control centers involving liquid nicotine rose from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014. More than half of the calls (51.1 percent) involved children under age 5.

New York State currently prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, but the 2010 law did not prohibit the sale of liquid nicotine to minors or require that the packages be childproof.

"This action will help combat nicotine addiction by keeping it out of the hands of minors, as well as prevent a heartbreaking accident that can occur if a child is exposed to this potentially dangerous substance,” Governor Cuomo said.

Liquid nicotine is dangerous to young children in part because is has candy-like names that could attract their attention, such strawberry, grape, watermelon, bubblegum and chocolate.

“A teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid or e-juice can kill a small child. Many of the accidental poisonings that have been reported in the United States have been traced to the problem of adults being unaware of the risks of having these liquids near children and being careless with control of the vials of liquid nicotine,” Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Health Commissioner, said.

The chemical is also deadly to pets.

The FDA has proposed regulations to properly label liquid nicotine to make parents and pet owners aware of the dangers and to require childproof containers, but currently those safety measures are not required.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging federal lawmakers to pass legislation requiring child-proof packaging for liquid nicotine sold to consumers.