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E-CIGARETTES AND LIQUID NICOTINE

What is Nicotine?

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance found in tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, and pouches.

Nicotine poisoning can occur when someone ingests, inhales, or absorbs nicotine through the skin or eyes. It can be particularly dangerous for children and young adults, as they are more susceptible to the effects of nicotine.

Why is Nicotine Poisoning Trending?

While tobacco products have been a long-standing public health issue, e-cigarette (aka e-cigs, vape pens, vapes) use has continued to gain popularity throughout the last decade. Poison centers began receiving calls about e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine products in 2010, which overlaps with the initial period where these products reached the U.S. market.

  • Exposures first peaked in 2014, which was the first year e-cigarettes became the most commonly used tobacco product reportedly used by U.S. youth.
  • In 2019, exposures to nicotine liquid used to refill e-cigarette devices peaked.
  • Exposures to e-cigarette devices have reached an all time high in 2023.

The majority of cases reported to poison centers are due to accidental exposures in children less than 6 years old. This reflects the increasing availability of these products in the home due to use by guardians or older siblings. Additionally, in the last 5 years, the FDA has warned companies selling e-cigarette devices made in the shape of toys, foods or cartoons that specifically appeal to use by young people.

As of May 31, 2024, Poison Centers have managed 3,535 e-cigarette and liquid nicotine related exposure cases.


From 2011 to 2024, Poison Centers have managed 51,463 e-cigarette and liquid nicotine related exposure cases.


Treatment and First Aid

First Aid:

  • If liquid nicotine is spilled on someone, remove any affected clothing and wash the area with soap and water.
  • If ingested or inhaled, contact Poison Help (1-800-222-1222) for specific recommendations.

There's no specific antidote for nicotine poisoning, but medical professionals can provide medications to help support patients experiencing more serious symptoms of nicotine poisoning.

Take Action

If you suspect nicotine poisoning, contact the Poison Help line  immediately. Our poison control experts are available 24/7 every day of the year to offer guidance and support. Here's how to reach us:

Remember, there is always someone available to help. Don't hesitate to call if you have any concerns after using nicotine, OR if you have questions BEFORE using nicotine products.

For the Media

Please cite this data as “National Poison Data System, America’s Poison Centers.” Any and all print, digital, social, or visual media using this data must include the following: “You can reach your local poison center by calling Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222. To save the number in your mobile phone, text POISON to 301-597-7137. Email Media@PoisonCenters.org or call 703-894-1863 for more information, questions, or to submit a data request.

PREVENTION

The best way to deal with nicotine poisoning is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Keep nicotine products out of reach of children.
  • Store nicotine products in their original packaging and in a locked container.
  • Educate youth about the dangers of nicotine.
  • Do not refill e-cigarette devices when children are around.
  • Limit use of e-cigarettes around children.
  • Wear protective gloves when handling nicotine liquid.
  • Dispose of unused nicotine liquid and e-cigarette devices following safe disposal recommendations and local guidance.

RESOURCES

For more safety information, visit the E-Cigarette and Liquid Nicotine Exposures prevention page.

RETURN TO SEE ALL EMERGING HAZARDS 
TRACK EMERGING HAZARDS

Important notes about Poison Center data

America's Poison Centers maintains the National Poison Data System (NPDS), the national database of information logged by the country’s Regional Poison Centers serving all 50 United States, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and territories. Case records in this database are from self-reported calls: they reflect only information provided when the public or healthcare professionals report an actual or potential exposure to a substance, request information, or request educational materials. As such:
  • America's Poison Centers is not able to completely verify the accuracy of every report made to member centers.
  • Additional exposures may go unreported to Poison Centers and data referenced from the association should not be construed to represent the complete incidence of national exposures to any substance(s).
  • Poison call volume about any given substance is influenced by the public’s awareness of the hazard or even the Poison Help line itself, which are heavily influenced by both social and traditional media coverage.
  • Poison Center data are considered preliminary and are subject to change until the dataset for a given year has been locked.
  • America's Poison Centers is continuously working to update the NPDS substance coding taxonomy to better serve the needs of America's Poison Centers' members and surveillance partners. As a result, substances may be reclassified within NPDS’ coding hierarchy, and case counts may change. This is particularly true for novel or emerging substances.

The term “exposure” means someone has had contact with the substance in some way; for example, ingested, inhaled, or absorbed a substance by the skin or eyes, etc. Exposures do not necessarily represent poisonings or overdoses.

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