Vaping has increased in popularity in New Zealand and the rest of the world over the last 5 to 10 years. With this increased use, the National Poisons Centre has seen an increase in childhood exposure to vapes and vaping products. The majority of products contain nicotine, although some nicotine-free products are available. Nicotine is toxic in tiny amounts in young children. The liquids used in vaping contain enough nicotine that even seemingly insignificant exploratory ingestions in children can be harmful.
Young children may also be found to suck on a vape device and may be able to inhale some of the vapour. While this is of lower risk than an ingestion of the concentrated liquid, this still poses a risk due to the potency of nicotine as well as causing some irritation to their airways.
Note, some vaping products or parts may also be small enough to be swallowed and therefore may be a choking hazard in small children.
What can I do?
- Do not rely on child resistant caps or locks, these simply slow children down, they are not “child proof”.
- Treat vape liquids/juices like you would dangerous pharmaceuticals or chemicals. When they are not being used, they should be out of reach and out of sight.
- If a child has gained access to a vape or vape liquid immediately DIAL 0800 POISON (0800 764 766) for first aid advice.
- If a child is found unconscious or unresponsive immediately DIAL 111
Vaping devices themselves can also be potential hazards. Devices contain batteries and if poorly constructed or they come into contact with water can discharge, heat up, catch fire, or even explode! In 2022 a Dunedin man had their vape product explode in their pocket while watching a movie at the cinema which resulted in the fire brigade to be called in and man developing burns (link). Only buy products from reputable manufacturers and follow all safety instructions.