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Increase In E-Cigarette Poisonings

March 28, 2014, 6:11 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Increase In E-Cigarette Poisonings

E-cigarettes are becoming a popular alternative to traditional cigarettes, but they aren't necessarily safer. There's been an increase in the devices poisoning children and teens.

Blown Away Vaping is one of a growing number of e-cigarette stores in Sioux Falls. It opened about a month ago.

"We have repeat customers already, so we are pretty happy about it," Co-owner Sandra Williams-Luther said.

With more people using the devices, there have been a growing number of accidental poisoning reports. There have been four calls of possible poisonings in South Dakota this month alone.

"I think the most important thing is to make sure it's safely locked away so children don't have access to it," Sanford Health Emergency Medicine Dr. Beth Lapka said.

Lapka says another reason behind the increase in poisonings could be because e-cigarette liquids have names like cotton candy or bubble gum.

"I think that is a direct effort to market to children," Lapka said.

If children or adults drink the liquid, it can have very serious, possibly deadly, consequences.

"Potentially, children can lapse into comas and have seizures if they ingest too much nicotine," Lapka said.

Some of the symptoms to watch out for include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dizziness.

"If you aggressively use too much of the vapor, you can still get a nicotine overdose that way," Lapka said.

Williams-Luther urges people who buy e-cigarette liquid to use and store it safely.

"It's so hard to watch your children 24/7, so you have to be very careful just like with anything else," Williams-Luther said.

But with extra precaution, Williams-Luther believes it can be a good alternative to traditional cigarettes. She says her husband is almost nicotine-free after smoking for more than 40 years.

"You still get a little bit of nicotine you need. Then you can just dial it down little by little. My husband is down to 0 or 6 milligrams right now," Williams-Luther said.

In Minnesota the number of e-cigarette poisoning calls has also increased. In 2012, the poison center received five reports of children swallowing or inhaling the liquid or getting it in their eyes. Last year, that number jumped to 50.

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