TAMPA, Fla. - Right now e-cigarettes are a hot product with huge increases in sales.
While they may be helping plenty of people kick the nicotine habit, experts say they're also leading to poisoning cases among children.
A recent convention in Tampa showed off the latest and greatest in e-cigarettes to thousands in attendance.
“Even just 2014 alone, it's exploding,” said Fred Jeffery, a vendor selling his products at the event.
Endorsed by celebrities and marketed as a safer alternative to cigarettes, the devices use a process called "vaping" to deliver nicotine to users.
The liquids that produce the vapors, called "e-juice," are sold in hundreds of varieties, including Grapealicious, Chocolate Glazed Doughnut and Cherry Crush.
“This is one of our popular brands….Nuclear fuzz,” said Jeffery. “ Mango, peach and a little bit of vanilla.”
And not only do the vapors smell like candy, e-juice bottles and e-cigs themselves are often manufactured to look like a treat.
“It's really an accident waiting to happen,” said Dr. Alfred Aleguas, director of the Tampa office of the Florida Poison Control Center.
“Kids are seeing you fill up this very attractive looking gadget and they're just going to be drawn to that,” Aleguas said.
Right now child proof caps are not required for e-juice bottles, even though a one-ounce bottle can contain as much nicotine as 100 cigarettes.
A teaspoon of the solution can easily land a kid in the emergency room.
“You get some nausea and vomiting. You get really pale, sweaty and shaky with the concentrated form. With significant exposure, you could have seizures,” Aleguas said.
The I-Team has learned that in 2013, the Florida Poison Control Center received 61 calls related to children being poisoned by e-juice.
More than 20 kids required hospitalization.
Most of these cases involve children drinking e-juice or spilling it on their skin.
So far no child has died in the United States.
“Adults should be responsible. Make sure their children aren't getting into the bottle of e-liquids,” said Jeffery. “That's first and foremost, protect the children.”
Jeffery said nicotine is so poisonous he has to wear protective suits when mixing e-juice.
All the bottles he sells are childproof.
He said that while e-cigarettes may seem harmless, they should be treated with the same amount of caution as alcohol, medicine or household poisons.
“Keep this on a top shelf. Keep it away. Keep it locked if you have to. Make sure your children are aware of it,” he said.
If your child comes into contact with e-juice, you should call the poison control hotline immediately.
You then will need to share any of the information you know about the exposure, such as how much came in contact with the child's skin or was ingested and the nicotine concentration of the product.