Shocking Fact: More People Poisoned By Toothpaste Than E-Liquid

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Ever since the New York Times ran an article about the potential danger of e-liquid poisoning, there has been a storm of media attention for electronic cigarettes. The Times claimed that e-cigs must be a lethal option based on the rising number of calls to Poison Control about e-liquids. There was no mention of the fact that e-cigs completely eliminate secondhand smoke and contain no tobacco, no tar, and no ash. As usual, the mainstream media chose to paint a picture of vaping as deadly and dangerous because e-cigarettes contain nicotine. In reality, toothpaste is the bigger threat.

The Times reported 1,300 calls to Poison Control that were related to e-liquid in 2013. Only a quarter of those calls ended in visits to a hospital and there was no data on why people were calling. Perhaps some just had questions about the ingredients in their e-liquids? We may never know the truth. As the e-cig industry booms, there are thousands of people using e-cigarettes each day. Bloomberg reported that e-cig sales topped $1.7 billion last year so there is no denying that this is a massive industry. With so many people using e-cigs, it’s actually quite a small number that reported potential poisoning concerns.

While any poisoning episode should be taken seriously, the media makes it appear that e-liquid is one of the most threatening substances to hit the shelves in years. In reality, that’s far form true. Take a look at the 2012 report from the National Poison Data System and you will quickly see that there are thousands of reports of poisoning emergencies and fatalities that are much more severe than those associated with e-liquid.

In 2012, there were 193,443 reported cases of poisoning from household cleaners. Alcoholic beverages led to 54,445 calls to Poison Control and believe it or not, toothpaste led to 20,206 reported cases of poisoning. In comparison, last year’s e-liquid calls were a mere 1,300 with just 365 justifying a trip to the hospital. When you look at 20,000 people poisoned by toothpaste, it makes 365 e-liquid events seem really insignificant. Even if e-liquid poisoning increased to be 15 times higher this year, it would still be less likely than toothpaste poisoning.

If we want to use The Times as our base for logic, that means we also need to wage a war on household cleaners, alcoholic beverages, and yes – even toothpaste. These substances are wreaking much more havoc than e-cigarettes in the big scheme of things. So if we have to regulate electronic cigarettes, should we also not consider regulating toothpaste? How do we know which brands are most dangerous? Should their advertising not be closely regulated? And don’t toothpaste ads appeal to children?

The flip side of this argument centers on nicotine. Yes, e-liquid contains nicotine, but there has never been a single reported case of death from accidental ingestion of e-liquids. In fact, the only associated death was a man that purposely committed suicide by injecting himself with e-liquid. The very idea that children could accidentally drink e-liquid is ludicrous. Drinking e-liquid would have to be an intentional decision to self-harm because even a drop on your tongue is enough to make you gag and even become ill. If you want to pick your poison, at least toothpaste tastes better!

Ultimately, the media wants to pick on e-cigarettes and it is simply unfair. Electronic cigarettes could potentially be the answer for thousands of smokers that die every single year. It offers a smoke-free, tobacco-free option and it eliminates secondhand smoke. With so many advantages, it seems that the media would embrace the electronic cigarette rather than seek to demonize it.

It appears that everyone is picking on the wrong substance. Instead of trying to villainize e-cigarettes as the enemy, why not put that same attention on preventing smoking and ending tobacco use? And if poisoning is the biggest concern, it’s time to turn our eyes to toothpaste, which caused a real emergency for more than 20,000 people.

So what do you think… should we ban toothpaste? Or was The New York Times just being a little unreasonable?

Jimmy, lover, blogger, vaper and ex-smoker. I’ve been blogging about and supporting Vaping since 2009. They changed my life and I think history will show them as one of the most significant public health invention of the 21st century.

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4 Responses

  1. Dan Heinberg says:

    How about banning toothpaste that contains fluoride, and also banning fluoridated water in the US, since this is what causes 20,000 poisonings each year. Fluoride is not necessary to human health and there are better alternatives.

    • Kylie says:

      Fluoridation helps our teeth, so having it in our water helps our teeth and actually hardly affects our body. Fluoridated water helps keep low income families from having to spend money they don’t have at the dentist.

  2. Joe says:

    … Everyone uses toothpaste, from the age of maybe 2 until the day they die.
    … A very small portion of the US population vapes.
    … I sure hope more people get poisoned by toothpaste than e-liquid, because otherwise we have some *serious* problems.

    • Jimmy Hafrey says:

      While we appreciate the point, it would be worth noting that most people would never guess that over 20,000 calls came in for toothpaste to the poison control center. Conversely, compared to smoking and vaping, you would expect either to be higher than toothpaste.

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