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E-cigarette nicotine safety caps needed to stop poisonings, says NY lawmaker

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A New York lawmaker is calling on the federal government to mandate child-proof safety caps on the liquid nicotine containers used for e-cigarettes citing increased calls to poison control hotlines.

Democrat Charles Schumer, at a press conference Sunday, said New York poison control centers have seen an uptick of calls, 70 so far this year, relating to accidental poisoning from the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes. In 2013 there were 46 such calls, claims the lawmaker.

According to Schumer more than half of e-cigarette related poisonings have involved children under the age of 5 years old.

"With flavors like bubble gum and chocolate, it's no wonder children are attracted to e-liquid in the hopes that it's candy," said Schumer.

The lawmaker believes accidental poisoning would be avoided if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would require child-proof safety caps as well as warning labels on the liquid nicotine packaging.

Poisoning can bring on vomiting, seizures, nausea and possibly death, said Schumer, who was joined at the conference by Dr. Maida Galvez and students from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

"Feds must do more to prevent the rapidly rising number of poisonings and illness in children and adults alike," said Schumer.

E-cigarettes are already under FDA scrutiny as the agency is considering rulemaking on marketing of the device. It is taking public comment on proposed rulemaking through August 8.

This past April the agency initiated the review after consumer health groups and lawmakers expressed concern that the devices were being marketed to teenagers. The FDA regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco. Proposed new products would include electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, certain dissolvables that are not "smokeless tobacco," gels, and waterpipe tobacco.

The proposed FDA action would make e-cigerattes subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act). 

Schumer is just the latest lawmaker to express concern about e-cigarettes.

A few weeks ago Michigan Governor Rick Snyder stated he is mulling vetoing an e-cigarette law that would not allow minors to buy the electronic cigarettes.

The Michigan legislature has approved three e-cigarette laws. The proposed rules would prohibit e-cig sales and use of e-cigs by those under the age of 18. The laws also note that the e-cigs re not tobacco products which do fall under the Food and Drug Administration regulations.

 "I've had issues with that bill," said Snyder last week, adding that it will get "special attention" and extra review. "Is it a tobacco product or not?"

The Michigan proposed rulemaking is just the latest in a continual series of actions regarding e-cigarettes.

The Michigan news followed news of  California Congresswoman Jackie Speier proposing that Congress regulate electronic smoking devices the same way the government regulates traditional tobacco.

"With flavors like gummy bear, cotton candy, and chocolate cake, our kids are literally vaping these things up," said U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, who announced the proposal outside the San Francisco General Hospital emergency room. "With ads using sex and sex appeal, our teens are lusting after these objects."

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