Choosing (How To Avoid) Your Poison
President Obama has signed into law a regulation involving ecigarette juice, to protect young children from hazard. As many of you may recall, I support ecigarette regulation that makes the product safer without impeding the industry that helped me quit smoking, though I am suspicious of regulation for the sake of regulation, based on undemonstrated and/or unrealistic fears, and for the sake of “getting tough on big tobacco.” I fear we’re headed more in the direction of the latter than the former, but time will tell.
I believe in the greater hierarchy of things to be feared by consumer products, much of the concern around ejuice poisoning is not especially justified. People don’t seem to understand how incredibly awful the stuff tastes. I don’t mean it tastes a bit unpleasant, like sour or something. We’re talking about a level of pleasantness somewhere between soap and gasoline. The nicotine actually stings the tongue. I’m not saying that no child anywhere would ever do this, but it is not the attractive nuisance that people are lead to believe.
That being said, I support regulation to address this. It may not be the hazard some are making it out to be, but it seems to me to be a hazard that can be avoided with relatively minimal negative impact on the producers and the product. The regulation that passed, however, may make things worse rather than better.
I get my ejuice from three sources: Halo, Bulk E-Juice, and Totally Wicked. You can see the Halo bottles to the left, and Bulk to the right. The Halo bottle has a child-proof cap that Lain would not be able to easily open. She would have to know to push it down and twist it, which is probably enough to satisfy the safety standards. In order to get the juice into the device, it has a dripper underneath. For Bulk, the lid comes off by simply twisting it, and has a squirter below to get the juice into the device. Lain would be able to get the cap off without any problem whatsoever. Totally Wicked has a child-proof cap (you have to squeeze the sides and twist) and a squirter.
While the regulation targets the Bulk containers, I am far more worried about something happening in the Halo bottle than the Bulk. Underneath the lid, the Halo bottle is completely open. Once she gets into the Halo bottle, she could just chug-a-lug it before realizing exactly how awful it tastes. A week ago I would have keep skeptical of her ability to get into the bottle, but parenthood is a series of revelations on what the little ones can’t and then suddenly can do. For the Bulk bottle, she would have to squirt it in her mouth, which I’m not sure she has the strength to do. And if she did, I suspect she would immediately discover that it really tastes awful and she would move on. She could decide to keep going, but there are 100 things in this house she could decide to ingest that worry me more. In order to chug the Bulk juice, she would have to get the squirter off, which I myself can’t do without a thin instrument like a butter knife. So, I’m not worried about the Bulk and kind of worried about Halo.
In preparation for the law, I suppose, Bulk seems to be offering alternative packaging for their juice. I ordered some yesterday and will report the results, but it looks like they’re moving towards Halo-like bottles (it’s described as “child-proof cap with dripper”). Which means that it will be trading less safe (to my eye) packaging for more safe packaging. Which might make this reglation a net hazard instead of a net benefit. It’s hard to say.
What would have been ideal is to require both child-proof capping and a squirt insertion system (or something similar). This is what Totally Wicked does, and it is by far the product that I am least worried about.
So, I’m not positive that they thought this through as well as they should have. It could be that I am wrong about the comparative hazard. It could be that they just didn’t think this through. It could be that passing a law was more important to them than what the law actually did. Ultimately, though, the responsibility for all of this is going to fall on vapers with young children in the house. Which is, regulation or no, how it was always going to be.