Signs, Harm Reduction and Killing Birds

Vaper’s Vortex

April 6, 2015

 “Their web designer could have a drop-down menu for downloadable “Poison du jour” signs.”


The Suffolk County Legislature in NY State recently passed a local law requiring a sign be posted anywhere where liquid nicotine is sold in the county. The first one of its kind in the U.S. I’m all about harm reduction. Who knows, perhaps their sign will help.

“Liquid Nicotine Warning:

Liquid nicotine may be poisonous if swallowed, inhaled or if it comes in contact with skin. It is not regulated so the amount of nicotine in any container is uncertain. KEEP OUT OF CHILDREN’S REACH. The use of liquid nicotine can be addictive. It may increase heart rate and blood pressure, cause dizziness and nausea, and aggravate respiratory conditions. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, persons with, or at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or taking medicine for depression or asthma should not use this product. INGESTION OF LIQUID NICOTINE MAY BE FATAL.”

  • I have read this warning a number of times. The content is accurate. Liquid nicotine is toxic by ingestion or skin absorption. Not all “exposures” are “poisonings” according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers but that’s a minor point. Our focus is harm reduction.
  • Unfortunately, some manufacturers have failed to exercise the care needed to ensure nicotine concentrations match labels. Regulation of manufacturing and labeling should improve that situation.
  • The relative toxicology of any substance is based on body weight. There certainly is a critically important need to keep nicotine out of the reach (and sight) of children.
  • There are a surprising number of medical professionals that believe that pure nicotine, such as that found in patches, gums, lozenges and electronic cigarettes, is actually not addictive. But that’s a subject for another day. Warning folks that nicotine is addictive is a well established norm and I can see a valid argument for harm reduction.
  • Nicotine is a mild stimulant and all of the symptoms in the warning, although usually mild and temporary, are well-documented. The other warnings regarding pregnant women, breast feeding, etc. are certainly valid. I think this statement is similar, if not identical, to the statement used on a variety of consumer products. All with the intention of – harm reduction.
  • Ingestion of nicotine by young children can be fatal. Personally, I would have added “EXTREME CARE SHOULD BE EXERCISED TO PREVENT INGESTION BY CHILDREN AND PETS”.

The sign is accurate, reasonably well worded and may reduce harm. I don’t see any issues that would justify any objections. There’s just one little question in my mind. Why does Suffolk feel compelled to pass laws applying specifically and in the case of liquid nicotine, exclusively, to e-cigarettes?

As long as they were on the subject of warning signs, why not create one for tobacco cigarettes? Talk about harm reduction! Sort of a “kill two birds with one law” kind of thing. Or better yet, why not “kill three birds with one law” by including alcoholic beverages as well?

Heck, with a little thought, they could have killed a whole flock of birds with one law. They probably could have done it with practically the same sign! Think about all the poisons they could target in the grocery story. OMG, what about hardware and gardening stores? Their web designer could have a drop-down menu for downloadable “Poison du jour” signs.

What is it about electronic cigarettes that the good folks of Suffolk County legislature find so uniquely threatening? I am “OK” with their sign. Not so sure about their priorities. Or their politics.

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Dave Coggin has a Master’s Degree in business and spent 35 years in corporate America. He is a co-founder and partner in DIYELS. He has spent the last five years actively researching and following the evolution of the e-cigarette industry. He is a strong proponent of e-cigarettes as the most promising option currently known for tobacco harm reduction. He may be contacted directly at .

The opinions presented here are exclusively those of the author. Vaper’s Vortex is offered as a service to our customers and followers. Anyone considering e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes should seek qualified advice from a medical professional.

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