Bill Aimed at Liquid Nicotine Clears Major Congressional Hurdle

February 26, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The first legislation aimed at regulating the sale of liquid nicotine came one step closer to becoming law today as a major Senate committee gave it bipartisan, unanimous approval.

The Senate Commerce Committee approved the legislation authored by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the panel’s top Democrat. The legislation would require child-resistant packaging on any liquid nicotine available for purchase.  

Nelson renewed his push for passage of such a measure after increased reports of illness, and as of December, one death, from liquid nicotine poisoning.  The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote.

“It’s simply common sense to make this potentially lethal product as difficult as possible for small children to get into,” Nelson said.

Nelson first offered the legislation last summer but it became embroiled in a bitterly partisan and divided Congress.  While it passed the committee last year, it did not make it to the Senate floor for a final vote.  So the Florida lawmaker once again offered the bill this year, vowing to continue pushing hard for passage.

A Republican cosponsor of the measure is Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). “I very much want to thank the ranking member, Senator Nelson, in particular, for his leadership on the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act, because this is something that just makes absolute common sense and it really was a tragedy that we lost a one-year old child in December over nicotine poisoning,” Ayotte said.

Liquid nicotine, sold in concentrated form for use in e-cigarettes, often comes in brightly colored, easy-to-open vials with enticing flavors, and can be easily mistaken for candy by young children.  But just a single teaspoon of this product could kill a small child, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, and exposure could also result in vomiting or seizures.

E-cigarette-related calls to poison control centers spiked in recent years, going from just one call per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  More than half of those calls involved children five years old or younger.

Here’s a link to a copy of the bill.