The nicotine poisoning death of a Melbourne toddler has been ruled an accident.
The nicotine poisoning death of a Melbourne toddler has been ruled an accident.

Tot’s ‘vape juice’ death ruled an accident

The death of a 19-month-old boy who ingested liquid nicotine while his mother's back was turned has been ruled as a tragic accident.

The case has prompted Victorian Coroner Phillip Byrne to call for greater awareness of the dangers of vaping substances.

The tot, known as Baby J, lived with his family in Melbourne's northwest and consumed the toxic liquid on May 30, 2018, while his mother was mixing vape juice for an e-cigarette.

"She looked back to see Baby J had reached up, taken the opened bottle and put it in his mouth,'' the coroner said.

The mother immediately washed her son's mouth out and called emergency services.

The child died 11 days later, in the Royal Children's Hospital.

Coroner Byrne said the case was "a momentary lapse in vigilance rather than neglect''.

"I think it is important to convey … the death of Baby J visited unimaginable grief upon his mother and had a profound impact on her mental and psychological wellbeing.''

The toddler died after ingesting “vape juice”. File image: Mark Cranitch
The toddler died after ingesting “vape juice”. File image: Mark Cranitch

The sale, possession and use of liquid nicotine was illegal in Australia, but many people buy from online retailers overseas.

But Mr Byrne stopped short of calling for changes to the laws to make the content and safety packaging liquid nicotine legal because the issue was complex.

"Ultimately, legislative change is a matter for government,'' he said.

But he did recommend that the state Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a public awareness campaign about liquid nicotine.

The coroner sought submissions from Safer Care Victoria, the Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service and the Commission for Children and Young People.

The Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and Quit Victoria also made statements regarding liquid nicotine.

ian.royall@news.com.au

@IanRoyall