E liquid, a substance used to create vapor in e cigarettes, could be subject to new packaging in North Carolina, thanks to a newly introduced legislative bill in the state.
Senators Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, and Don Davis, D-Pitt, are co-sponsoring Senate Bill 286, which seeks to make childproof packaging and warning labels mandatory on bottles of e liquid, or the liquid that is used in electronic cigarettes and vaporizers.
Vaping devices such as these serve as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes and are often used by current or former smokers looking to break the habit of tobacco use. The liquids used to produce vapor are available in more than 7,700 flavors from 466 different brands and counting.
These liquids, typically used to refill rechargeable but not disposable e cigarettes, have created controversy over the past few months as poison control centers around the U.S. see more children accidentally ingesting this substance.
While the flavor and carrier liquids ingredients in e liquid are relatively harmless, the nicotine is what can cause problems. Children who ingest e liquid with nicotine can experience nausea, vomiting, eye irritation, increased heart rate, dizziness, seizures and other serious complications.
Last year, a toddler in New York State died as the result of accidental ingestion of e liquid.
The law in North Carolina would ban the sale of any e liquid product that doesn’t have the correct child-resistant packaging and warning labels on the dangers of the product’s ingredients. If it passes, it will take effect Dec. 1 and result in a Class A1 misdemeanor charge for any businesses that violate this law.
The bill dictates that child-resistant packaging is any bottle that would make it “significantly difficult” for a child under the age of five to open. Safety warnings would include information consistent with rules from the N.C. Commission for Public Health.
In addition to preventing young children from gaining access to vaping products, legislators around the country also struggle with developing measures to prohibit teens from buying the devices and their accessories online.
A study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that age verification processes in online e cig sales were lax at best and non-existent in most cases, violating North Carolina’s e cigarette age verification law.
Eleven non-smoking minors between the ages of 14 and 17 visited 98 different tobacco vendor websites to purchase the cheapest available rechargeable or disposable e cigarettes, and were successful 76.5% of the time.
The study also found that 95% of delivered orders were left at the door and minors were not asked to sign for them. Although 18 of the 98 orders failed, they were for reasons unrelated to age verification.
Out of all orders, just five failed due to age verification protocols by e cigarette vendors.
Health concerns are among the largest concerns North Carolina lawmakers have in keeping e cigs and e liquids away from minors. The devices are not currently regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Lack of industry regulation is also a threat, according to Bingham. “We’re concerned about the bootleggers of these liquids who are selling product without warning labels, either from recipes they make themselves or [e liquids] they get from suppliers,” he said.
Bingham praised the “potential for these products to help reduce overall smoking, but we want them to be as safe as possible until the FDA sets its standards.”