E-cigarettes are often marketed as the safer alternative to traditional tobacco, but a New York Times article published today raises serious questions about that claim. While traditional cigarettes burn dried tobacco leaves, refillable e-cigarettes rely on a liquid tincture that is vaporized and inhaled. Unlike tobacco, however, this liquid is not regulated by the FDA and the health risks haven't been fully explored. 

[E-Cigarette liquids] are mixed on factory floors and in the back rooms of shops, and sold legally in stores and online in small bottles that are kept casually around the house for regular refilling of e-cigarettes.  

Now that e-cigarettes have grown in popularity, however, the negative effects of their liquids—especially when misused by children—have slowly come into focus. 

Since 2011, there appears to have been one death in the United States, a suicide by an adult who injected nicotine. But less serious cases have led to a surge in calls to poison control centers. Nationwide, the number of cases linked to e-liquids jumped to 1,351 in 2013, a 300 percent increase from 2012, and the number is on pace to double this year, according to information from the National Poison Data System. Of the cases in 2013, 365 were referred to hospitals, triple the previous year’s number.

While most of the worst cases of poisoning involve kids getting their hands on a toxic drug, the news should be disturbing to any adult choosing to smoke the liquid. Some of these mixtures are so powerful that one tablespoon could kill a full-grown adult. 

[via the New York Times]

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