MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the last seven years, the e-cigarette industry has gone from a no-name to a $1 billion business.

As this form of nicotine use continues to grow in popularity, the Minnesota Department of Health released a warning to parents.

Health officials say there is a misconception out there about e-cigarettes. The nicotine in e-cigarettes is in a liquid form and can be even more toxic than the stuff in regular cigarettes.

Children don’t even need to ingest the nicotine. Skin contact with e-juice can be harmful.

Dr. Jon Cole, the medical director of the Hennepin Regional Poison Center, says that there’s been a dramatic increase in reported e-cigarette poisonings among children under the age of 5 in the last five years.

Records show that in 2011 and 2012, a total of four children in that age group suffered nicotine poisoning in Minnesota. But last year alone, 62 kids got sick.

While the numbers are on the rise, no nicotine poisoning deaths have been recorded in Minnesota. One death, however, has been recorded in New York.

Cole says one-fifteenth of a teaspoon of e-juice can be lethal to a toddler, or a 22-pound child.

“I’m not sure there’s a great understanding about how potentially dangerous this really is,” he said.

Ali Lucia

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