May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. It’s the day that the World Health Organization and its partners highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other products containing nicotine are bad for our health. They may result in long-term risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. They may also cause poisonings.

This is especially true as more people start using electronic cigarettes.

The liquid nicotine in these products is often highly concentrated. That makes it dangerous for young children, who may get into it unknowingly. Children who swallow liquid nicotine can have an irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing, or even seizures.

Teens and adults may also become sick from using e-cigarettes.

Because they are highly concentrated, it can be easy to overuse these products unintentionally. Symptoms of nicotine overuse can include upset stomach or vomiting, headache, anxiety and dizziness.

E-cigarettes: Health risks unknown

While some adults are turning to e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking, it is unclear at this point what the health risks are and whether this is an effective way to quit smoking. Meanwhile, more and more young people are starting to use e-cigarettes. They are drawn to the variety of appealing flavors and may not always realize that these products contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Use of e-cigarettes may also lead young people to transition to traditional cigarettes.

Prevent poisonings at home

If you have tobacco or other nicotine products in your home, help prevent poisonings by keeping them up high, out of the reach of children and pets, preferably in a locked cabinet. Follow the instructions provided on the package or by your health care provider if you use a nicotine replacement product to help you quit smoking. You want to avoid getting too much nicotine.

If a child has swallowed nicotine, or if you are feeling sick after using nicotine, call the Northern New England Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222, or text POISON to 85511. For more information on nicotine, visit the NNEPC’s website.

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