Health and Medicine

51% of the Tested Labels on E-Cigarette Nicotine Containers Were Inaccurate and 65% Were Not Childproof


North Dakota State University researchers have discovered that containers holding e-cigarette nicotine liquid don’t accurately show the right amount of nicotine in the products. In this study, the researchers discovered that 51% of the labels from containers that they tested from 16 stores in North Dakota did not accurately display the amount of nicotine found inside. One bottle had 172% more nicotine in it than what was shown on the label.

There were also concerns raised during the study pointing out that the containers were not all childproof. Of the liquid containers tested, 65% were not child-resistant.

According to the author of the study, Kelly Buettner-Schmidt, a nursing associate professor at NDSU, users of the e-liquid would be exposed to the harmful nicotine effects. She also added that children could be exposed to the nicotine as well due to lack of childproof packaging. Even a small amount of liquid nicotine ingested by a child could result in accidental poisoning, nicotine toxicity or even death.

The products tested came from retail stores in North Dakota that sold e-cigarettes but did not need to have a retail tobacco license to sell them. According to the research team, of the 23 containers tested that were labeled as having no nicotine, 43% of them actually did. The nicotine amounts averaged .19 mg per milliliter and one bottle actually contained .48 mg per milliliter.

A total of 93 containers of e-cigarette liquid were examined with 70 labeled as containing 3mg to 24 mg per milliliter. A surprising 51% had nicotine amounts that didn’t match the label with 17% having more nicotine and 34% having less. The range of nicotine content varied from 172% above the amount listed to 66% less.

North Dakota State University’s Core Synthesis & Analytical Services Facility performed these measurements using a liquid chromatography high-performance method. A +/- 10% variation in the concentration amount was allowed in the results.

The products tested included liquid purchased from June 9, 2015 up to June 26, 2015 from the retail stores in North Dakota. The stores at that time did not have to have a retail license to sell tobacco. This study took place before new e-cigarette state requirements came into effect in August 2015.

The new regulations banned e-cigarette sales to minors under the age of 18 and in present time childproof containers have to be used. Regulations have not been put into effect, however, for the nicotine labeling for the containers. The FDA will disallow misleading or false advertising of e- cigarettes and free samples will not be allowed when new regulations begin this August. As well, warning labels will have to be put on e-cigarette products in 2018.

This study was funded by The North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy. Another study that appeared in the Tobacco Control journal examined 16 retail stores that were selling these products to see whether they were complying with the smoke-free law in North Dakota. Each cigarette use was discovered in 50% of these stores. As well, only 44% of the 16 stories were complying with state requirements for a smoke-free outdoor environment while 6% of these stores were complying with requirements for a smoke-free indoor environment.

Full study has been published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing.