Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Nicotine 'E-Liquids' a Health Threat: Experts

WebMD News from HealthDay

March 25, 2014 -- A potent, liquid form of nicotine poses a serious and potentially deadly threat, but is sold legally in stores across the United States and online.

The so-called "e-liquids" -- which are the key ingredients in e-cigarettes -- are extracted from tobacco and enhanced with flavorings, colorings and various chemicals, The New York Times reported.

The liquids, which come in small bottles that people keep on hand in order to refill their e-cigarettes, are not regulated by the federal government.

E-liquids are powerful neurotoxins that can cause vomiting, seizures and even death when small amounts are ingested or absorbed through the skin. A small child can be killed by only a teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid, according to The Times.

Experts warn that children are at special risk because they may be attracted by e-liquids' bright colors and appealing flavors such as bubble gum, chocolate and cherry.

"It's not a matter of if a child will be seriously poisoned or killed," Lee Cantrell, director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System and a professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, told The Times. "It's a matter of when."

The number of accidental poisonings involving e-liquids was 1,351 in 2013, a 300 percent increase from 2012. The number of cases is on track to double this year, according to National Poison Data System figures.

"This is one of the most potent naturally occurring toxins we have," Cantrell said of nicotine. Despite the danger, e-liquids are now available almost everywhere in the U.S. "It is sold all over the place. It is ubiquitous in society."

The Food and Drug Administration has said it plans to regulate e-cigarettes, but has not provided any details, The Times reported.

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?

Filtered cigarettes
an array of e cigarettes
human heart
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms

man smoking cigarette
no smoking sign
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
chain watch