WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take immediate action to protect Arkansas families, especially children, from liquid nicotine poisoning. Liquid nicotine vials are used to refill e-cigarettes. According to a recent report from the New York Times, poison cases related to liquid nicotine have increased exponentially over the past few years. Unfortunately, Pryor said this trend is also playing out in Arkansas, where 21 children have been exposed to liquid nicotine poisoning.
"With e-cigarettes now being sold in flavors like cherry and bubble gum, we've seen a staggering number of liquid nicotine poison cases in our state, especially in our young children. We must find a solution to this dangerous problem now," Pryor said. "As Arkansas's Attorney General, I fought hard to protect our kids from hidden dangers, and that commitment continues today. I won't let up until I know our families are protected from the dangers of liquid nicotine poisoning."
The full text of Pryor's letter is below:
I am writing in response to recent news coverage regarding the sharp spike in poison cases related to liquid nicotine. I am deeply concerned about the potential dangers liquid nicotine poses to consumers and families, especially young children.
As reported recently in the New York Times, the number of poison cases related to liquid nicotine has jumped to 1,351 in 2013, a 300 percent increase over 2012. Liquid nicotine used to fuel e-cigarettes contains many neurotoxins and even a small amount that is ingested can have serious effects on an adult and could be fatal to a small child. The materials pose a greater risk than regular tobacco because the liquid can be much more concentrated and absorbed more quickly. I am particularly concerned about the risks to children because liquid nicotine is sold in bottles without child-proof lids, and contains colors and flavors such as cherry, chocolate, and bubble gum.
I recognize that the FDA is in the process of issuing regulations related to e-cigarettes. However, I believe that readily available liquid nicotine poses a serious risk and that steps should be taken immediately to protect the public, especially children. Appropriate safeguards must be instituted and the public should be alerted to the dangers associated with these products. I am likewise concerned about high-concentration liquid tobacco that is available over the Internet.
Specifically, I am requesting information about the following:
• What will the FDA do to ensure liquid tobacco sold to American consumers contains nicotine levels that are safe?
• What is FDA doing to ensure American consumers have access to information about the ingredients contained in e-liquids?
• Is FDA considering measures to ensure parents have adequate information about the nicotine concentration level and the potential risks those levels could pose to children who come into contact with the e-liquid?
• How will the FDA work with the Consumer Products Safety Commission and industry to ensure liquid nicotine is packaged in child-resistant containers?
I urge the FDA to work quickly to ensure consumers and the public are protected from risks associated with liquid tobacco. As Lee Cantrell, the director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System, said recently of our current trajectory, "it's not a matter of if a child will be seriously poisoned or killed, it's a matter of when."