Nicotine poisoning


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in report released today that the number of phone calls to U.S. poison control centers related to e-cigarette use has increased from just one call per month on average in 2010 to nearly 200 calls per month in early 2014.


The rise in the numbers of e-cigs related calls to poison centers leads us to view this as a major public health concern,

said report author Dr. Kevin Chatham-Stephen, a pediatrician and an epidemiologist with the CDC.

He said that though e-cigs comprise less than 2 percent of all tobacco-related sales, they now account for more than 40 percent of poison center calls. More than half of the calls involved children younger than 5 years old.

“This is a very dramatic finding,” Chatham-Stephen said.

According to the report, most of these emergencies are linked to the liquid nicotine within the e-cigs. If the liquid is released from the cylinder that holds it, the result can be acute nicotine toxicity from direct skin or eye exposure, ingestion, or inhalation.

“Cigarettes are the most dangerous consumer product on the planet, and smokers need to treat e-cigs with considerable caution especially since the product is unregulated.”

Dr. Tim MacAfee, director of the Office on Smoking and Health at CDC and contributor to the report.

Those within the e-cigarette industry said concerns are overblown. Jason Healy, the president of e-cigarette manufacturer Blu-cigs, called the findings in the report “a weak argument” against the devices and is evidence of “an ongoing attack on the e-cigs industry by various anti-smoking groups.”

“The product is for adult smokers, and therefore the responsibility for children’s safety falls on the parents, just like bleaches and prescription medications,”

Healy said.

“The focus should be on parenting and education, and not regulation.”

Healy did say, however, that the findings should prompt the e-cig industry to formulate effective child safety measures.

Vaping is a relatively new and very unregulated activity. It does involve one dangerous chemical – liquid nicotine, and quite frankly the vaping industry should be doing all that it can to ensure that it is packaged safely and that users are educated about its characteristics and safe handling.

Anything less is going to lead to draconian regulations and bans, which those of us that vape are truly worried about. Jason Healy is an idiot, and is taking a position that is going to cause regulators to be more restrictive rather than less. While he is probably fairly accurate in his assessment, it won’t help using rhetoric that is likely to inflame rather than cool the situation.

If the regulators feel that the industry is solely concerned with profits (just like the tobacco industry) then the hammer will come down. Regulators are already leaning towards public bans – let’s not give them any more ammunition.

Having said that, the truth of the matter is that there are hundreds of dangerous chemicals around a home, including mum’s nail varnish remover, and the liquid nicotine used at vaping levels is not an “oh my god what are you doing allowing that in public” toxic substance. Yes – it can be poisonous, but then so can many things we use every day. Singling out liquid nicotine does seem to be very selective.

Smile for the day

truck-sheepThe news over the last little while has been either black or dark gray depending upon whether you are a glass half full or glass half empty type. The weather has been nasty and spring is refusing to arrive properly. So, lets try to lighten things up just a little with something sublime or ridiculous. Lets talk bizarre driving laws

In Montana it’s illegal to have sheep in the cab of your truck unless there’s a chaperone—but luckily it’s legal to keep Dolly inside the passenger cabin without supervision. In Nevada driving camels on highways is prohibited.

Truth or dare

SchaubleA senior German minister has come under fire from both the Russian government and German MPs for comparing Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea with Hitler’s invasion of the Sudetenland in 1938.

Wolfgang Schauble, Germany’s finance minister and a veteran of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, made the remarks during a discussion with German schoolchildren earlier this week.

“We know this from history. Hitler used such methods in Sudetenland – and a lot more”

The Russian foreign ministry summoned the German ambassador to complain on Thursday.

“We consider this kind of pseudo-historical excursion from the German minister to be a provocation,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. “This analogy is a crude distortion of historical events and facts. An official occupying such a high placed position must give an account of his words,”

Additionally Herr Schauble has been criticized from within the German political ranks, and Angela Merkel has distanced herself from the remarks.

Lets stop mincing words. The Russian actions were an invasion, not a legitimate annexation, or protection of Russian citizens.There is a significant Russian troop presence on the border between Ukraine and Crimea, and that sure as heck isn’t there to prevent a response from Ukraine, whose army consists of 36 solders, 5 bicycles and a dog.

Herr Schauble has said that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes and he is right.

Fort Hood

forthoodThere has been another tragedy at a US Military Base, and again it is Fort Hood.

The soldier who killed three people at Fort Hood may have argued with another service member prior to the attack, and investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage, authorities said Thursday. Spec, Ivan Antonio Lopez was a 34 year old military truck driver and Iraq war vet, who was being treated for anxiety and depression.

Now the effect of war on soldiers and the aftermath are a subject that needs looking into. If we send our young men and women into harms way, then there must be an obligation to deal with the outcomes. Whether this be physical scars or mental ones, needs must be met. Will it be possible to help everyone to the full extent they need? – no probably not, although a best effort is needed. What will be true, as in all things in life is that despite everyone’s best effort, people will fall through the cracks, and the best that can be done is to ensure those cracks are as narrow as possible..

The lesson to be learned here though is not that this is an ex-soldier, shooting military personnel on a military base. It is that he was using weapons that were not military issue. Weapons are very tightly controlled on a military base and only issued on an as needed basis. The military realizes that they are dangerous and does its best to keep them under control. This is not true in the world outside of the military. Guns are far too easy to obtain, and in this case, rather than a fist fight breaking out there was a mass shooting.

The NRA will have you believe that the answer to this is more guns not less. If everyone has a gun, then these mass shootings will not happen as people will be able to defend themselves.


Shootings will still happen. People will crack and make bad decisions and the fact that they have easy access to guns leads to those bad decisions being fatal rather than bruising.


War of words

russiantanksMoscow is pressing Nato to explain its plans to enhance its military presence in Eastern Europe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.

“We not only expect answers, but answers… based fully on respect for the rules we agreed on,” he said.

Nato has said it will reinforce the alliance’s defences in Eastern Europe following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Nato has also halted all civilian and military co-operation with Russia.

Russia by all reports has massively built up its troop presence on the border with Ukraine, and has persistently refused to honor requests to reduce that presence. Now, when Nato is proposing some counter moves, which are based upon the nervousness of Nato members that are close to this region, Russia is demanding explanations.

Maybe, “well you are standing on the Ukraine border with 40,000 big clubs” would do.

Russia has proceeded with complete disregard to any international pressure to this point, so I would make the case that it was has a game plan that it is following. Whether that game plan is well thought out is up for debate, and how it  will play out depends on a lot of factors outside Russian control.

It has executed a force play on the ground, and is well into a media play to attempt to give those looking for excuses to look the other way a rationale for doing so. It is also blowing smoke out of every orifice.

It is attempting to destabilize an already unstable area for its own ends and hopefully the “excusnics” will get very little media play, but if past experience is anything to go by they will get far more coverage than they deserve.