Electronic cigarettes have become increasingly popular on the continent and they really deliver on their promise, but with the popularity, there is also a dark stain of unfortunate events haunting the products’ reputation. As you have probably heard, there has been an increasing rate of nicotine poisonings across the U.S., mostly involving children and mostly because of the lack of responsibility some adults. United States poison control centers went from taking a single e-liquid related call per month to nearly 200 calls this year, according to a report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention back in April.
It refers to electronic cigarettes as a ‘major public health concern’ and Dr. Martin Laliberté, director of the Canadian Association of Poison Control Centers, shares the same idea. ‘In Canada, there seems to be anecdotal reports that suggest a similar trend … the general impression that we have coming from all five of our poison control centers across the country is that it’s becoming more and more frequent,’ Laliberté said. ‘There are some pretty significant amounts of calls coming in.’
Responsible for this situation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the liquid nicotine in the electronic cigarettes. In some cases, the liquid is contained in the device’s cartridge that can be both disposable and rechargeable. Other times, the tank or clearomizer can be opened and refilled. If this process is not done properly, or gets into the wrong hands, the nicotine could potentially cause skin or eye irritation, nausea and even vomiting.
Unlike the United States, Health Canada has not authorized electronic cigarettes with nicotine, so the vaporizing device and any liquids that containing nicotine cannot be sold in Canada until products obtain certification. The federal agency would not comment on the number of applications that have been filed so far.
‘To date there is not sufficient evidence that the potential benefits of e-cigarettes in helping Canadians to quit smoking outweigh the potential risks,’ according to a written statement by Gary Holub, Health Canada spokesperson after a request by Global News. ‘A company would have to provide evidence of safety, quality and effectiveness in order to have its product authorized. Without this scientific evidence, Health Canada continues to advise Canadians against the use of these products,’ he added.
The Canadian Cancer Society also doesn’t promote ecigs to consumers, according to senior policy analyst Rob Cunningham. ‘We would only recommend nicotine replacement products approved by Health Canada,’ he declared. So far, that only includes five products: gum, the patch, lozenges, an inhaler and mouth spray.
However, ‘some consumers are obtaining e-cigarettes with nicotine despite the fact that they’re not approved yet. Some stores are selling them or they’re purchased online,’ Cunningham said.
Back in 2013, there were 111 calls in Ontario about tobacco cigarette poisonings, compared to only 10 e-cigarettes.