MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - Federal regulators are warning companies that advertise liquid nicotine products as kid-friendly food or candy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission issued more than a dozen warning letters Tuesday to companies that misleadingly labeled or advertised nicotine-containing e-liquids as kid friendly food products such as juice boxes, candies and cookies.
According to the FDA, e-liquids are dangerous for children and can cause severe reactions including seizures, coma or even death in young children.
The use of e-cigarettes and vaping increased among teens 900 percent from 2011 to 2015, and half a million middle school students admitted to using them, according to a report by the United States Surgeon General.
"No child should be using any tobacco product, and no tobacco products should be marketed in a way that endangers kids – especially by using imagery that misleads them into thinking the products are things they'd eat or drink," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb in a press release.
The FDA cited a recent analysis of National Poison Data System data, with more than 8,200 e-cigarette and liquid nicotine exposures among children younger than six between January 2012 and April 2017.
More than two dozen reports were in Mississippi, according to the Mississippi Poison Control Center:
- 2015: 9 reported cases, ages 0-3
- 2016: 11 reported cases, ages 0-8
- 2017: 7 reported cases, ages 0-4
- 2018: 3 reported cases, ages 0-3
"Looking at these side-to-side comparisons is alarming. It is easy to see how a child could confuse these e-liquid products for something they believe they've consumed before – like a juice box.," Gottlieb said. "These are preventable accidents that have the potential to result in serious harm or even death. Companies selling these products have a responsibility to ensure they aren't putting children in harm's way or enticing youth use, and we'll continue to take action against those who sell tobacco products to youth and market products in this egregious fashion."
Here are tips from the FDA on the best ways to keep liquid nicotine away from children:
- Remember that children are curious and put all sorts of things in their mouths. Even if you turn away for a few seconds, they can quickly get into things that could harm them.
- You can help prevent accidental exposure to e-liquids by always putting your e-cigarettes and/or e-liquids up and away—and out of kids’ and pets’ reach and sight—every time you use them.
- Also ask family members, house guests, and other visitors who vape to keep bags or coats that hold e-cigarettes or e-liquids up and away and out of reach and sight of children and pets.
- For children old enough to understand, explain to them that these products can be dangerous and shouldn’t be touched. And tell kids that you or another adult are the only people who should handle these products.