On July 10, 2014, Senator Nelson of Florida, along with several co-sponsors, introduced a bill in Congress that calls for “special packaging” requirements for e-liquid.  Commonly known as the Child Nicotine Poisoning Act of 2014, Senate Bill 2581 (“S. 2581”) calls on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (the “Commission”) to require childproof packaging, or “special packaging” for any e-liquid container, referred to in the bill as a “liquid nicotine container.”  S. 2581 has been referred to the House Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

S. 2581 defines a “liquid nicotine container” as a container that (A) “has an opening that is accessible through normal and reasonably foreseeable use by a consumer;” and (B) “is used to hold liquid containing nicotine in any concentration.”  The bill incorporates by reference the definition of “special packaging” from section 2 of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 (the “PPPA”).  The PPPA defines “special packaging” as “packaging that is designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under five years of age to open or obtain a toxic or harmful amount of the substance contained therein within a reasonable time and not difficult for normal adults to use properly, but does not mean packaging which all such children cannot open or obtain a toxic or harmful amount within a reasonable time.”

If enacted, S. 2581 would require the Commission to promulgate rules within one year of its enactment.  The rules must require special packaging for liquid nicotine containers.  The bill also provides the Commission with the authority to promulgate amendments to the rules from time-to-time, as it deems necessary.

A statement released by the office of Senator Nelson cites the use of flavors and “enticing names,” such as “cotton candy, “fruity loops,” and “gummi bear,” as a draw for children to open and to play with these e-liquid bottles.  “There’s enough nicotine in some of these bottles to kill small children, and even if a small amount spilled on a child’s skin it could make them extremely ill,” said Senator Nelson.  According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, “there have been more than 1,500 calls regarding liquid nicotine exposure so far this year – a pace that will double last year’s total. And the 1,351 cases reported last year represented a 300 percent increase from 2012.”

For questions and/or comments, please contact Bryan Haynes, Troutman Sanders Tobacco practice partner, at 804.697.1420 or by email.