The latest health reports on e-cigarettes have been dismal at best. The electronic puffers may not actually help people quit smoking, and now, new findings show the liquid nicotine has become a poisoning hazard to young children, and even older people, who accidentally swallow the chemical, reports.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed a “dramatic” rise in the number of e-cigarette-related emergency calls to U.S. poison centers over the last four years.

Since the hi-tech smoking sticks started gaining fame, e-cig poisoning calls have risen from about one each month back in September 2010 up to a startling 215 calls each month this past February. More than half of these reports have involved children younger than 6.

Health experts say that when a small amount of the liquid nicotine found in e-cigarettes is ingested, the chemical can trigger nausea, vomiting and eye irritation. What’s more, swallowing larger amounts or proportions of this e-liquid can actually lead to seizures and even death. (Studies show that one teaspoon of the diluted liquid has the potential to kill a small child.)

“E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof,” said Tom Frieden, MD, the CDC’s director. “Use of these products is skyrocketing, and these poisonings will continue.”

The findings bolster increasing medical skepticism about the safety of e-cigarettes. The CDC now says e-cigs could be an emerging public health issue.

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