HealthDay News — There has been a recent increase in the number of calls to poison centers regarding nicotine toxicity from electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) exposure, according to the CDC.

“Health care providers; the public health community; e-cigarette manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and marketers; and the public should be aware that e-cigarettes have the potential to cause acute adverse health effects and represent an emerging public health concern,” Kevin Chatham-Stephens, MD, and epidemic intelligence service officer with the FDA, and colleagues reported in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The researchers examined data on calls made to U.S. poison control centers about human exposure to e-cigarettes and compared it with those of conventional tobacco cigarette exposure calls. From September 2010 to February 2014, U.S. poison control centers reported 2,405 e-cigarette and 16,248 cigarette exposure calls.

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During the study period, the proportion of monthly e-cigarette exposure calls increased from 0.3%  to 41.7%, the researchers found.

Slightly more than half (51.1%) of e-cigarette exposures occurred among those aged 0 to 5 years, followed by exposures in people aged older than 20 years (42%).

Compared with conventional cigarette exposure calls, e-cigarette exposure calls were more likely to report an adverse health effect (57.8% versus 36%; P<0.001), and were more likely to be made from a health-care facility (12.8% vs. 5.9%; P<0.001)

E-cigarette exposures were more likely to be reported as inhalations (16.8% vs. 2.0%), eye exposures (8.5% vs. 0.1%), and skin exposures (5.9% vs. 0.1%), and less likely to be reported as ingestions (68.9% vs. 97.8%) compared with conventional cigarette exposures (P<0.001).

The most common adverse health effects reported in e-cigarette exposure calls were vomiting, nausea and eye irritation, according to the CDC. There was one suicide death from intravenous injection of nicotine liquid during the study period.

The latest form of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), e-cigarettes were first marketed in the United States in 2007. The mechanism of action in e-cigarettes is a battery-powered device that heats a nicotine solution, creating an inhalable vapor without burning tobacco products. The FDA began regulating the devices as tobacco products in 2010.


  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014. April 4;63(13): 292-293.