CDC: Children being poisoned by liquid in e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes and bottles of liquid nicotine

An increasing number of people, especially young children, are being injured after coming into contact with e-cigarettes.

The problem occurs when people touch or accidentally swallow the liquid nicotine found inside the devices.

"People do not appreciate the level of toxicity that is present in this e-liquid. This is concentrated nicotine," said Dr. Tim McAfee of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.

As sales of e-cigarettes have risen in recent years so have calls to poison control centers related to that concentrated nicotine, or e-juice, as it's sometimes called.

The Centers for Disease Control released a report finding that just one call to a poison center related to e-cigarettes in September 2010. In February 2014, there were 215.

"The symptoms that people are reporting are predominantly nausea and vomiting and eye irritation," McAfee said.

Those symptoms can occur by simply touching the liquid nicotine.

Users "vape" the liquid and can switch out the containers of e-juice for different flavors, like cotton candy and bubble gum.

The new report offers a warning in particular for adults to keep the products away from children. Children under age 6 accounted for more than half of the e-cigarette-related calls to poison centers.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island is one of six senators calling for the Food and Drug Administration to step up regulation of e-cigarettes and stop the sale of what they call "candy flavored poisons" to children.

"We want to make sure, particularly when it comes to children, that there are appropriate regulations in place to protect minors from easy access to these products because they do have potential health damages," Reed said.

A representative for the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association responded to the study, saying manufacturers clearly warn users of the potency of liquid nicotine on product labels.

The group also said e-cigarettes are an adult product and that more needs to be done to educate users. It said regulatory bodies should do more to enforce the industry's recommended guidelines.