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MN youth poisonings by e-cigarette juice increase tenfold

DULUTH — The tenfold increase in Minnesota youngsters poisoned by e-cigarette juice last year is alarming, a local anti-smoking advocate said.

“It’s a startling increase and something we should be very concerned about,” said Pat McKone, Duluth-based director of tobacco control programs and policy for the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest.

But it needs to be viewed in context, said Duluth e-cigarette proprietor Daniel Albrecht, citing a much greater number of poisonings from other products.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported Tuesday that 50 teens and children were victims of poisonings related to e-cigs in 2013, compared with five the year before. More than half of those poisoned were younger than 3, and nine of the 50 were teenagers. Another 24 adults were poisoned, a news release said.

The data came from the Minnesota Poison Control System.

More than 200 Minnesota retailers sell the product, which is an electronic device that vaporizes water to supply liquids. The liquids used in e-cigarettes often include flavors such as cotton candy, bubble gum and grape. They may or may not contain nicotine.

Most e-cigarette shops opened in the past year, including two in Duluth.

Albrecht owns one of those, E-cig Empire, with his brother Mike. Most of the e-juice sold is with child-resistant caps, Albrecht said, and what he calls the vaping community is pushing for all of it to be child-safe.