REPORT: E-cigarettes pose growing risk to children - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

REPORT: E-cigarettes pose growing risk to children

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SPOKANE, Wash. - Electronic cigarettes pose a growing risk to children between the ages of one and three, according to a new report released by the Washington Poison Center.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are designed as a safe alternative for smokers. But as their popularity increases, health officials say not enough is being done to keep them out of the hands of children. The big concern is the fact that e-cigarettes come in hundreds of flavors, 

"It's that bright packaging that is sitting around. And, you know, mom and dad are using it...so kids are naturally interested," Cindy Green from the Spokane Regional Health District said. "They smell good because they have different kinds of flavors that are attractive to kids."

The Washington Poison Center says the number of calls they received about kids exposed to e-cigarettes increased by 600 percent in the past years. Even more alarming- 82 percent of those children exposed were between one and three years old.

"Perhaps you leave it uncapped- or even loosely capped or not capped at all - and kids will just get into it, play with it and put it in their mouths," said Dr. Alexander Garrard from the Washington Poison Center said. Garrard said some students even mistake the packaging for eye drops and squirt it into their eyes.

The Spokane Health District recommends adults treat e-cigarettes and bottles of nicotine like any other medication or household poison. They say the best thing to do is keep it in a locked cabinet.

The smallest amounts of nicotine can be poisonous for young children. Even a few drops absorbed through the skin can send them to the emergency room. That is why health experts are pushing for more regulations and child proof packaging.

Meanwhile, there is also a growing concern about the popularity of e-cigarettes among teenagers. According to the Center for Disease Control, the number of young Americans who have tried electronic cigarettes - but not conventional tobacco - has tripled in the last three years. More than 250,000 teenagers in middle school and high school reportedly use the device, slowing what was a massive drop in teen smoking since the late 1990's.
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