E-cigarettes continue to gain popularity, despite new warnings. In this edition of Wellness, Katie Gibas explains the emerging dangers of flavored nicotine.
"Kids can break open the capsules that contain the liquid that's vaporized in e-cigarettes and it's flavored with flavors like bubble gum, strawberry and it can be very attractive to children. And if a small child gets some of this, ingests it, gets it through their skin, it can definitely give them nicotine poisoning," said Leslie Kohman, the medical director of Upstate Cancer Center.
According to the annual report from the National Poison Data System, 438 people were poisoned by e-cigarettes in 2012. Most of those people were children under the age of 5.
"Nicotine can create seizures in children. In anyone it can create a very fast heart beat. It can raise the blood pressure. It's a very toxic neurotoxin for the brain and central nervous system," explained Kohman.
Those poisonings are on the rise. Now, health experts are warning people who use e-cigarettes to lock the devices and nicotine cartridges away, and to keep them out of reach of children.
However, for health experts and smoking cessation advocates, the concern goes far beyond poisoning.
"The biggest concern in small children is toxin. It's like a poison. But in the adolescents who are beginning to experiment with them as smoking, by far the biggest concern is easy nicotine addiction," said Kohman. "It's just as easy to get addicted to nicotine with e-cigarettes as it is with regular cigarettes. And once they're addicted, we know how hard it is to quit."
As a result, many doctors are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to start regulating the battery-powered, vapor alternative to traditional smoking.