View Full Version : Poison by the barrel: liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes

Dr Mordrid
24th March 2014, 16:19
Not to mention being a prisoners dream...


Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes

A dangerous new form of a powerful stimulant is hitting markets nationwide, for sale by the vial, the gallon and even the barrel.

The drug is nicotine, in its potent, liquid form — extracted from tobacco and tinctured with a cocktail of flavorings, colorings and assorted chemicals to feed the fast-growing electronic cigarette industry.

These “e-liquids,” the key ingredients in e-cigarettes, are powerful neurotoxins. Tiny amounts, whether ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting and seizures and even be lethal. A teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid can kill a small child.

But, like e-cigarettes, e-liquids are not regulated by federal authorities. They are mixed on factory floors and in the back rooms of shops, and sold legally in stores and online in small bottles that are kept casually around the house for regular refilling of e-cigarettes.

Evidence of the potential dangers is already emerging. Toxicologists warn that e-liquids pose a significant risk to public health, particularly to children, who may be drawn to their bright colors and fragrant flavorings like cherry, chocolate and bubble gum.

“It’s not a matter of if a child will be seriously poisoned or killed,” said 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. “It’s a matter of when.”

Reports of accidental poisonings, notably among children, are soaring. Since 2011, there appears to have been one death in the United States, a suicide by an adult who injected nicotine. But less serious cases have led to a surge in calls to poison control centers. Nationwide, the number of cases linked to e-liquids jumped to 1,351 in 2013, a 300 percent increase from 2012, and the number is on pace to double this year, according to information from the National Poison Data System. Of the cases in 2013, 365 were referred to hospitals, triple the previous year’s number.

Examples come from across the country. Last month, a 2-year-old girl in Oklahoma City drank a small bottle of a parent’s nicotine liquid, started vomiting and was rushed to an emergency room.
Unlike nicotine gums and patches, e-cigarettes and their ingredients are not regulated. The Food and Drug Administration has said it plans to regulate e-cigarettes but has not disclosed how it will approach the issue. Many e-cigarette companies hope there will be limited regulation.

“It’s the wild, wild west right now,” said Chip Paul, chief executive officer of Palm Beach Vapors, a company based in Tulsa, Okla., that operates 13 e-cigarette franchises nationwide and plans to open 50 more this year. “Everybody fears F.D.A. regulation, but honestly, we kind of welcome some kind of rules and regulations around this liquid.”

Dr Mordrid
24th March 2014, 16:35
And a potential chemical weapon....


*In early 2011, Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian right-wing extremist, began to research a means of creating poisoned bullets. In his ‘manifesto’3subsequently published online, he noted that ‘A relatively simple process will convert hollow point and even standard ammunition – lead or other alloy bullets into hollow bullets. These hollow projectiles are then injected with a biological or chemical toxin. … [converting] your projectile weapon into a chemical or biological weapon’. His criteria for selecting the poison were ease of obtaining it and lethality (measured as the LD50, or dose required to kill 50% of 75 kg adults). After careful consideration of alternatives, including heroin, various insecticides and cyanide, he concludes that the ideal is*nicotine. He notes that while pure nicotine has a slightly higher LD50 than cyanide, unlike almost all of the other substances he considered, it can be purchased without restriction. Indeed, he helpfully supplies a draft letter than can be used to order it from chemical suppliers, ostensibly for use in electronic cigarettes. He even provides addresses of such suppliers, indicating that he ‘received the 50 ml of 99% pure liquid nicotine shipment from China’, and was ‘relieved to see that there were no complications whatsoever’.*

24th March 2014, 16:44
I'm against nanny state regulation and also against seeing terrorists hiding behind every broomstick.

E-cigarettes are awesome.

Brian Ellis
25th March 2014, 00:44
Nothing new here, some agrochemical pesticides from the 19th c are made from nicotine (incidentally can be synthesised) although their use is now in decline.

I don't think Breivik was clever; ricin, derived from the castor oil plant, would be more effective; it is ~50 times more toxic than nicotine and can be easily extracted from plants that you can buy in any garden centre, provided the cultivar is not sterile.

25th March 2014, 01:05
e-cigarettes are awesome

Not really... they are filthy bacteria-laden devices (Listeria, Staph, various hardy virii, and not a few fungi) of questionable design and manufacture: Battery failure in these things can be downright explosive. They are also a very good drug delivery system... legal and otherwise. Therein lies my concern: these things are like a syringe for anything you might try to vape. My 13 year old son brought one home: I very patiently had to explain that these things are nowhere near as safe as marketed, regardless of what liquid was being used. I also showed him that his possessing one was illegal (we're in Arkansas). At his school (A publicly-funded academy), one of the student's father, a Doctor (not an RN or a NP), came in and explained why e-cigarettes are not as safe as people are saying... the steam is still hot enough to cause long term lung damage. Quite a few doctors and pharmacists are alarmed at what these things bring to the table in terms of illegal or customized drugs. Colorado already has problems with Cannabis-based e-liquids turning up in schools. Others are sure to follow... Meth, Crack, Cocaine, Heroin are going to make it into the e-liquid ecosystem quickly.

Dr Mordrid
25th March 2014, 17:36
Not a bad homicide vector either - just select a reasonably deadly non-nicotine additive or bioagent and sneak it in the bottle. Especially for 0% flavor only mixes that nasties can live in.

26th March 2014, 08:18
Years ago, in the mid-80's, when the 'posse comitatus' was in the news, my wife's cousin asked me if a person could be busted for possessing the instructions to make ricin. I told him no because First Amendment and he seemed relieved. I felt obliged to add "but if they find it covered with handwritten notes, or a 50-pound bag of castor beans in your garage, they'll bust your ass." That seemed to take a little of the wind out of his sails and he said "good to know."

Fortunately he was one of those guys who was all talk.

26th March 2014, 13:55
I see people toking on the e-cigarettes taking what looks like, really, really long tokes, and some even directly inhaling the vapour !
I don't think it has the same texture as cigarettes, but I won't be buying one until ther is some sort of regulation, and people don't really lend them around :) so I haven't tried one.

I was also wondering if other drugs would appear in liquid form for these devices, and how the hell it would be possible to police it.
Its not possible.
Anyone smoking an e-ciggy, no matter what the smoke smells of, could be smoking aything basically.
If it can't be regulated, or controlled, it will be banned.

Not until some people have made a LOT of money from it though.

26th March 2014, 14:34
You misunderstand. The most money will be made _after_ it has been banned.

29th March 2014, 06:39
I'm sorry, I meant legally obtained money :)

But you are right, the most money "overall", legally and especially illegally will be made after its been banned. :)