Legislation to ensure children aren’t able to get their little hands on tasty-looking – but poisonous – liquid nicotine has made it past one hurdle: the Senate unanimously passed the measure yesterday, indicating widespread support for the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015.
The Act [PDF], introduced by Florida Senator Bill Nelson, aims to treat the packaging of liquid nicotine the same as household substances under the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970: requiring the use of child-proof bottles and containers.
Liquid nicotine, used to refill e-cigarettes, has been a point of concern for consumer advocates, health officials and lawmakers in recent years, with reports indicating that children, who may be drawn to the product’s bright color packaging and flavors, are at a higher risk of death from coming into contact with the toxin.
According to the poison control data, the substance is highly toxic if ingested or absorbed through the skin, as little as half a teaspoon can be fatal if ingested by an average-sized toddler. In 2014, poison control centers received more than 3,000 calls related to e-cigarette and liquid nicotine exposure, and one toddler died, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports.
At issue in the bill is the packaging of the products. Currently, manufacturers aren’t required to use child-resistant containers.
That would change under the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015, which now makes its way to the U.S. House of Representatives for final passage.
Under the Act, manufacturers of liquid nicotine would be required to sell products in child-resistant packaging consistent with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards within six months of the bill’s passage.
The packaging must be difficult for children under five years of age to open or to obtain harmful contents from.
Additionally, the bill would preserve the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to regulate the packaging of tobacco products.
AAP, which backed the measure, applauded legislators’ unanimous vote on the Act, noting that it marks an important step in the process of protecting children.
“Every child deserves a safe home environment, and the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015 helps to provide just that,” AAP President Sandra G. Hassink, said in a statement. “With e-cigarettes becoming more and more common in households across the country, we cannot afford to wait another day to protect children from poisonous liquid nicotine.”