First Confirmed Death from E-Liquid Nicotine

The Fort Plain New York police department have released their official findings in the tragic death of 18 month old Eli James “EJ” Hotaling. EJ died shortly after consuming 100mg liquid nicotine concentrate that his mom used for mixing.

The investigation revealed that on Dec 9th 2014, Eli was found convulsing on the floor, and shortly after lost consciousness. After calling 911, Eli was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the nearby Little Falls Hospital. The official cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia caused by the ingestion of nicotine.

The nicotine was purchased from Oklahoma City based Heartland Vapes. Belinda Hotaling, Ej’s mother, would purchase the nicotine concentrate in 100mg bottles to mix with e-liquid.

This marks the first documented death of a child related to the liquid nicotine used for vaping.

According to the police investigation, the Hotaling family said that the nicotine bottle was not child proof. The Hotaling family currently plans to sue Heartland Vapes.

This unfortunate tragedy spotlights one of the biggest risks in our industry.

Nicotine in its pure form is very potent and consuming it can be fatal, especially for small children. This is a very sad and tragic accident. I can only imagine the pain that the family must be going through.

However, The blame shouldn’t fall on the vapor industry. The majority of vape companies are responsible, use child proof caps, and display proper warnings.

Lawmakers are constantly using the argument that e-liquids are dangerous for children, and claim the industry tries marketing to them. What lawmakers don’t realize is tragedies like the death of EJ Hotaling will become more frequent if they pass the debilitating regulations they are proposing.

As I outlined in my post about the potential fall out of prohibition, we would not only see a rise in black market sales, but more people like Belinda Hotaling making their own e-liquid. The materials are widely available.

If flavoring and vaping become illegal, more people will purchase pure nicotine to mix it themselves, increasing the chance of accidents.


Calls to poison centers due to e-cigarettes are on the rise. Making them illegal will just make things worse. We need education on responsible handling and storage. We need responsible laws outlining packaging, labeling, and distribution.

We do not need the scare tactics and the terribly unrealistic laws that are being proposed all over the world.

Individuals lack the proper education and training to produce e-liquid. Bare in mind, EJ did not die from consuming e-liquid in its final form, he was poisoned from the raw nicotine his mom left laying around for mixing her own flavors.

Imposing regulations such as a ban of e-liquid flavors, and denying access of the liquids vapers want, will only drive more people to DIY and increase the rate of accidents.