Nicotine Poison Prevention

Nicotine Poisoning Prevention

In 2023, there was an increase of 47% from the previous year in the number of South Australian calls made to the Poison Information Centre (PIC) due to accidental exposure to nicotine products. These nicotine products included Nicotine Replacement Therapies (gum, lozenges, sprays), cigarettes/cigarette butts and vaping/e-cigarette devices and liquids.
The majority (85%) of the nicotine-related calls to the PIC were due to exposure for children aged 5 years and under with over half of these calls (62%) relating to accidental exposure to e-cigarette devices and liquids that potentially contain nicotine.
The full extent of accidental child exposure to nicotine is likely to be higher than reported to the Poisons Information Centre due to additional cases being taken directly to hospitals, attended by ambulance services, or not reported by families of the victims.
It’s important to keep nicotine away from children.

Why is nicotine so dangerous to children?

1. A young child can die from very small amounts of nicotine. The effects of nicotine poisoning can come on very quickly.
2. Nicotine poisoning to children has become a growing concern because of new nicotine products on the market, particularly e-cigarettes and pure liquid nicotine. The concentration of nicotine in liquid products is higher than most other tobacco products.
3. There has been an increase in the number of calls made to the Poison Information Centre (PIC) due to accidental exposure to nicotine products.
4. Products containing nicotine are commonplace in many homes and can be easily accessed by young children.

In June 2018 in Victoria, an 18-month-old child died following the ingestion of high concentration liquid nicotine.


What products have nicotine in them?

There are a number of regularly used products that contain nicotine. The products below all contain nicotine and may be very harmful to children if they access them:

Tobacco including cigarettes, cigarette butts and chewing tobacco.

 

E-cigarettes (vapes) and vape liquid refills

Nicotine Replacement Therapies including gum, lozenges, sprays, mists, patches, inhalers.

Nicotine can enter a child’s body through:
Ingestion and absorption through the mucous membrane of the mouth (from tobacco chew products or liquid nicotine) or through the intestines (after accidental swallowing of e-cigarette refill products or drinking liquid nicotine).
Absorption through the skin, if nicotine is in liquid form and spilled on the skin or touched.
Inhalation into the lungs, from smoked products and electronic cigarettes.Nicotine can enter a child’s body through:
Ingestion and absorption through the mucous membrane of the mouth (from tobacco chew products or liquid nicotine) or through the intestines (after accidental swallowing of e-cigarette refill products or drinking liquid nicotine).
Inhalation into the lungs, from smoked products and electronic cigarettes.

What can we do to reduce the risk of a child being accidentally poisoned due to nicotine?

Treat nicotine seriously like other medicines and poisons
Keep nicotine products out of reach of children (up high or locked away in a cupboard).
Dispose of nicotine products safely (where they cannot be found by children).
Never leave a child alone with nicotine products.
Avoid using nicotine products in front of children.
Don’t call nicotine gum and lozenges ‘lollies’.
Because disposable vape pens are not designed to last longer than 3 to 14 days, they are not as durable as re-fillable devices. There is a greater risk with breakage and potential access to liquid, or components such as the cotton liquid infused pads/wicks.
Conduct a safety audit of nicotine products around your home. Move and store nicotine products out of reach of children.
Keep handbags (and visitor’s handbags) out of reach of children. These may nicotine products, hand sanitiser, medicine, or other poisons.
If using refillable vapes, ensure the liquid is stored away from children. Do not put the liquid into other containers. If the liquid is being stored in the fridge, make sure it is in a secured container.
Spread the word – tell your family members and friends about the dangers of nicotine so they too can make sure to keep children safe from nicotine poisoning.

What do we do if a child has put nicotine in their mouth?

Call the 24-hour Poisons Information Centre immediately on 13 11 26 if a child has put nicotine in their mouth or on their skin.

Translating and Interpreting Service 131 450. If the child has collapsed, or is not breathing, call 000 for an ambulance first.

For more information about nicotine poisoning prevention, please call Kidsafe SA on (08) 7089 8554.


Please See Below For Campaign Resources:

POSTER – Nicotine Poisoning Prevention – Ashtray
POSTER – Nicotine Poisoning Prevention – Vape
POSTCARD - Nicotine Poisoning Prevention – Ashtray
POSTCARD - Nicotine Poisoning Prevention – Vape


Campaign resources for Aboriginal families and communities

A4 Poster .pdf



A5 Poster .pdf