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E-cigs blamed for parental negligence

This whole month, searches on "e-cigs" have rendered "E-cig poisonings on the rise" articles. The Minneapolis Star's "Latest e-cig fear: Poisoned kids" is an example.

It would seem that journalists hostile to vaping are getting desperate for headline ideas that will link e-cigarettes with things that frighten the public. These articles are not about any dangers arising from vaping among youngsters. These are articles about dangers arising when clueless parents leave dangerous substances lying around where their children can drink or eat them. If the substance in question happens to be e-liquid, then your vaping-unfriendly journalist has his article for the day, with a headline combining "e-cig", "poison", and "child". Once into the article itself, the logical disconnect becomes clear to any intelligent reader.

But most people only see the headline, and it reinforces the link in their minds between e-cigarettes and danger to children. The National Capital Poison Center in Washington DC states that 2012 saw 1760 child (under 6) exposures to household cleaners. One could come up with headlines like "Floor-Wax Poison Danger Exposed", or "Household Bleach Scare – Is Your Child Safe?" Although there has not been time to collect long-term data on possible ill-effects of vaping, everyone knows they could only be slight, if present at all, and that in any case they would only show up after years of vaping. They would not be "poisonings" at all. It would be impossible for anyone, child or adult, to poison oneself through an instance of vaping.

Drinking e-liquid is what these children did, when the adults in their household carelessly, cluelessly, left them lying around. However, it would be impossible for these instances to result in fatalities, because the kids puke immediately, even if poison control is not visited. A group of European nicotine scientists, in a recent letter to the EU Commission, pointed out that it would be impossible to kill oneself by drinking nicotine liquid, at any concentration, because vomiting would set in naturally long before death.

The anti-vaping crowd is getting desperate for scare headlines. A few months ago, a favorite topic was exploding batteries that injure children. Again, the topic was not e-cigs but parents who don't know how to re-charge batteries safely, and who engage in unsafe re-charging behaviors around their children. But if you're a fear-mongering, anti-vaping journalist, you've got your headline that combines e-cig with "danger" and "child". Don't bother to read the article: the headline produces the intended link in an uncritical public's collective brain. 

Last Fall, a study concluded triumphantly that injecting nicotine-laced fluid directly into cardiac tissue in lab dishes managed to produce damage to those tissues. What a revelation! But follow-up studies have been hampered by the fact that it is difficult to find people who inject nicotine directly into their hearts.

A group of anti-vaping scientists in California recently trumpeted on television their intent to investigate substances that may be present in vapor. They ended up with egg on their faces when the substances they found turned out to be minerals you can find in supplement capsules on the shelves of your health food store. It's getting harder and harder to find ways to scare the public about e-cigs.