Kevin Chatham Stephens, MD1, Royal Law, MPH2, Ethel Taylor, DVM2, Paul Melstrom, PhD3, Rebecca Bunnell, ScD3, Baoguang Wang, MD4, Benjamin Apelberg, PhD4, Joshua G. Schier, MD2 (Author affiliations at end of text)

Electronic nicotine delivery devices such as electronic cigarettes (e cigarettes) are battery powered devices that deliver nicotine, flavorings (e.g., fruit, mint, and chocolate), and other chemicals via an inhaled aerosol. E cigarettes that are marketed without a therapeutic claim by the product manufacturer are currently not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (1). In many states, there are no restrictions on the sale of e cigarettes to minors. Although e cigarette use is increasing among U.S. adolescents and adults (2,3), its overall impact on public health remains unclear. One area of concern is the potential of e cigarettes to cause acute nicotine toxicity (4). To assess the frequency of exposures to e cigarettes and characterize the reported adverse health effects associated with e cigarettes, CDC analyzed data on calls to U.S. poison centers (PCs) about human exposures to e cigarettes (exposure calls) for the period September 2010 (when new, unique codes were added specifically for capturing e cigarette calls) through February 2014. To provide a comparison to a conventional product with known toxicity, the number and characteristics of e cigarette exposure calls were compared with those of conventional tobacco cigarette exposure calls.

An e cigarette exposure call was defined as a call regarding an exposure to the e cigarette device itself or to the nicotine liquid, which typically is contained in a cartridge that the user inserts into the e cigarette. A cigarette exposure call was defined as a call regarding an exposure to tobacco cigarettes, but not cigarette butts. Calls involving multiple substance exposures (e.g., cigarettes and ethanol) were excluded. E cigarette exposure calls were compared with cigarette exposure calls by proportion of calls from health care facilities (versus residential and other non health care facilities), demographic characteristics, exposure routes, and report of adverse health effect. Statistical significance of differences (p<0.05) was assessed using chi square tests.

During the study period, PCs reported 2,405 e cigarette and 16,248 cigarette exposure calls from across the United States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. E cigarette exposure calls per month increased from one in September 2010 to 215 in February 2014 (Figure). Cigarette exposure calls ranged from 301 to 512 calls per month and were more frequent in summer months, a pattern also observed with total call volume to PCs involving all exposures (5).

E cigarettes accounted for an increasing proportion of combined monthly e cigarette and cigarette exposure calls, increasing from 0.3&#37 in September 2010 to 41.7&#37 in February 2014. A greater proportion of e cigarette exposure calls came from health care facilities than cigarette exposure calls (12.8&#37 versus 5.9&#37 ) (p20 years (42.0&#37 ). E cigarette exposures were more likely to be reported as inhalations (16.8&#37 versus 2.0&#37 ), eye exposures (8.5&#37 versus 0.1&#37 ), and skin exposures (5.9&#37 versus 0.1&#37 ), and less likely to be reported as ingestions (68.9&#37 versus 97.8&#37 ) compared with cigarette exposures (p<0.001).

Among the 9,839 exposure calls with information about the severity of adverse health effects, e cigarette exposure calls were more likely to report an adverse health effect after exposure than cigarette exposure calls (57.8&#37 versus 36.0&#37 ) (p<0.001). The most common adverse health effects in e cigarette exposure calls were vomiting, nausea, and eye irritation. One suicide death from intravenous injection of nicotine liquid was reported to PCs.

Calls about exposures to e cigarettes, which were first marketed in the United States in 2007, now account for 41.7&#37 of combined monthly e cigarette and cigarette exposure calls to PCs. The proportion of calls from health care facilities, age distribution, exposure routes, and report of adverse health effects differed significantly between the two types of cigarette.

This analysis might have underestimated the total number of e cigarette and cigarette exposures for several reasons. Calls involving e cigarettes or cigarettes and another exposure were excluded, and the code indicating a case of e cigarette exposure might have been underused initially. In addition, health care providers, including emergency department providers, and the public might not have reported all e cigarette or cigarette exposures to PCs. Given the rapid increase in e cigarette related exposures, of which 51.1&#37 were among young children, developing strategies to monitor and prevent future poisonings is critical. 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.

1EIS officer, CDC 2Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, CDC 3Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC 4Center for Tobacco Products, Food and Drug Administration (Corresponding author Kevin Chatham Stephens, xdc4 , 770 488 3400)


  1. Food and Drug Administration. News and events electronic cigarettes (e cigarettes). Silver Spring, Maryland US Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration 2014. Available at
  2. CDC. Notes from the field electronic cigarette use among middle and high school students United States, 2011 2012. MMWR 2013 62 729 30.
  3. King BA, Alam S, Promoff G, Arrazola R, Dube SR. Awareness and ever use of electronic cigarettes among U.S. adults, 2010 2011. Nicotine Tob Res 2013 15 1623 7.
  4. Cobb NK, Byron MJ, Abrams DB, Shields PG. Novel nicotine delivery systems and public health the rise of the “e cigarette.” Am J Public Health 2010 100 2340 2.
  5. Mowry JB, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, Bailey JE, Ford M. 2012 annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS) 30th annual report. Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2013 51 949 1229.

Los angeles city council approves e-cigarette ban

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes, popularly known as “vaping,” from restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other public spaces within the nation’s second largest city.

If signed into law by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the measure would take effect in 30 days, said Tony Arranaga, spokesman for Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, one of the sponsors of the bill.

Los Angeles would join a growing list of cities, including New York and Chicago, that restrict the use of e cigarettes, battery powered cartridges filled with nicotine liquid that create an inhalable vapor when heated.

At stake is the future of an industry that some analysts believe will eventually overtake the $80 billion a year tobacco business.

Advocates of e cigarettes say they are less dangerous than tobacco products and can help smokers quit.

But public health experts fear they may act as a gateway to smoking for the uninitiated. Critics also point to potential harm posed to individuals who may inhale second hand vapor from e cigarettes, saying too little is known about the effects of the chemicals contained in the cartridges.

Under the measure passed by the City Council, e cigarette use would be prohibited from bars, nightclubs, restaurants and outdoor areas where tobacco smoking is generally restricted, such as parks, beaches, farmers markets, recreational areas and outdoor dining spaces.

The bill provides exemptions to allow e cigarettes in vaping lounges and stores, similar to exceptions made for cigar and hookah lounges under traditional anti smoking restrictions. E cigarettes would also be permitted for theatrical purposes.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Meredith Mazzilli)