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States Protect kids while FDA Delays

The state of Illinois is ringing in the New Year by implementing responsible regulation of e-liquid packaging. A new state law, requiring child-proof containers for liquids containing nicotine, took effect as 2015 was rung in last Thursday. Illinois children will be protected against the carelessness of household members who might leave the liquids lying around open.


This occurs while the Food and Drug Administration continues to delay on taking such measures, leaving children unprotected in many states, while it continues to dither about trace levels of more dangerous chemicals, which may or may not be present in the liquids, but which would not be harmful in any case, at actual concentration levels.


Other states, particularly New York, are now taking similar measures, in the aftermath of a recent tragedy, the first toddler fatality, which occurred in upstate New York. Although many poisonings have been reported in the past few years, as the burgeoning vaping phenomenon has spread without regulation, there had been no fatalities until the New York tragedy last month. This is because nicotine causes profuse vomiting, and it is very unusual for the child to keep the liquid down. So while anti-vaping crusaders have been shrill in their attacks (and have incorrectly identified vaping itself, instead of do-nothing regulators, as the culprit), there had been no prior deaths.


The Illinois state legislature passed this bill last August, so it was not related to the December 2014 tragedy. Families in some other states will have to wait for their own state legislatures to act, since the FDA does not seem likely to get off its derriere on the matter. This inaction, on the part of the regulatory agency entrusted with protecting families from dangerous household substances, actually serves the ends of vaping opponents, since the public seems inclined to heed alarmist journalists and blame vaping rather than regulatory inaction for the danger. It would seem inconceivable that the delay could be purposeful! This would make the FDA responsible for last month's New York toddler death. It would seem inconceivable.


Or would it?


Fortunately, there are some public-spirited e-liquid manufacturers and distributors that child-proof their containers anyway. Responsible vapers should patronize these companies in preference to others. And there are some vaping households that keep e-liquids, like alcoholic beverages and dangerous household cleaners and solvents, in places where toddlers cannot get at them. One hopes that such responsible practices will become the norm. It will protect not only the vapers' families from a vomiting episode or worse, but it will protect the vaping community and industry from bad press and unfair attacks.


When regulators fail to do their duty, the public must step in to protect its loved ones, and to protect its interests.