Smokeless tobacco poisoning linked to infant, child deaths

Old pipe tobacco advertisement from 1869. There's a young child smoking a pipe in the picture, which indicates that the industry has been marketing to children for some time. Now smokeless tobacco poisoning has raised parents' awareness, as dissolvable nicotine products look and taste a lot like candy.

Tobacco companies have used children in marketing since the 19th century. Perhaps it's time to stop making smokeless tobacco look like candy? (Photo: Flickr)

Smokeless tobacco poisoning has become “a major cause of infant and child poisoning,” reports WebMD. Between 2006 and 2008, a study of 61 regional poison control centers indicated that there were 13,705 tobacco poisoning cases in children less than 6 years of age. More than 70 percent were infants younger than 1 year old, says WebMD. Colorful packaging and small pellets that look like candy are likely contributors to the dilemma.

Smokeless tobacco poisoning – Are parents paying attention?

While cigarettes still lead the tobacco poisoning pack, instances of smokeless tobacco poisoning have risen considerably. Experts are distressed by new types of “dissolvable, compressed tobacco products that come in small pellets, such as Camel Orbs.” These orbs look like candy mints, and even have flavors added to make them taste similar to candy. The tobacco industry was not contacted for comment by WebMD, but if you don’t smell marketing to appeal to children in this toxic brew, you either work for the tobacco industry or put your pants on after your shoes.

Nausea, vomiting, weakness and death

Those are just a few of the symptoms children may experience after ingesting tobacco products, symptoms no parent wants to see in a payday loans-funded trip to the ER. According to medical researchers who contribute to WebMD, “the estimated minimal lethal dose of nicotine for children is about 1 milligram of nicotine per kilogram of body weight.” Smokeless tobacco poisoning is understandably easy to come by, considering that each pellet contains about .83 mg of nicotine on average. Pop a few and a child will likely need immediate medical attention.

Dr. Gregory Connolly of Harvard University says that the flavorings can contribute toward kids developing a taste for what they think is candy, as the sweetness masks the tobacco flavor. And of course, nicotine itself causes addiction. Thus, Dr. Connolly and many others in pediatric medicine are calling on federal and public health authorities to pay particular attention to this type of dissolvable nicotine products.

One death is too many

Not one more smokeless tobacco poisoning of an infant or youth should have to occur before the tobacco industry is forced to be accountable for how they market their products.  But perhaps most significant here is what parents must do. Ideally, if you have children, you shouldn’t smoke or use tobacco products. However, if you do have them in the home, they should be kept far out of the reach of children. Needing an instant cash loan to pay for an ER bill because your son or daughter suffered smokeless tobacco poisoning is not something any parent wants to experience.

(Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/trialsanderrors/ / CC BY 2.0)

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