Dissolvable Nicotine Poses Poisoning Risk to Kids

A new, dissolvable nicotine pellet, now being sold as a tobacco product, but which could be mistaken for candy, could result in accidental <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">nicotine poisoning in children, said Science Daily, citing a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), the Northern Ohio Poison Control Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The new nicotine products could also be found attractive by younger people, which could lead to nicotine addiction, said Science Daily. The study appears in an advance online issue of the journal Pediatrics and will appear in a future print issue.

Last year, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company launched Camel Orbs, a dissolvable nicotine product that, based on promotional literature, contains 1 mg nicotine per pellet and is flavored with cinnamon or mint, said Science Daily. R. J. Reynolds also introduced Camel Strips (to contain 0.6 mg nicotine per strip) and Sticks (to contain 3.1 mg nicotine per strip).

Although the dissolvable pellet was likely intended as a temporary nicotine product to be used by smokers in areas banned from smoking, said Science Daily, the potential public health effect could be catastrophic when considering babies and teens, said Professor Gregory Connolly, the study’s lead author and director of the Tobacco Control Research Program at HSPH. Of note, tobacco product ingestion by babies and children is a key reason for calls to poison control centers across the country, said Science Daily, which wrote that in 2007, 6,724 tobacco-related poisoning cases were reported in children five years of age and under. Nausea and vomiting can be seen in children ingesting small amounts of nicotine, as little as 1 mg, said Science Daily.

Although R.J. Reynolds claims Orbs packaging is “child resistant,” the researchers report that a poison control center in Portland, Oregon—an Orbs test market area—reported a case in which a three-year old ingested an Orbs pellet, said Science Daily. Also, the researchers note that the pellets could be accidentally left in areas where children could access them, mistaking them for candy.

Looking at median body weight and the amount of ingested nicotine it takes for children to show symptoms of tobacco poisoning, the team found: “A one-year-old infant could suffer mild to moderate symptoms of nicotine poisoning by ingesting 8 to 14 Orbs, 14 Strips or 3 Sticks; ingesting 10 to 17 Orbs, 17 Strips or 3 to 4 Sticks could result in severe toxicity or death. A four-year-old child could have moderate symptoms by ingesting 13 to 21 Orbs, 14 Strips or 4 Sticks and could suffer severe toxicity or death by consuming 16 to 27 Orbs, 27 Strips or 5 Sticks,” said Science Daily.

In the wake of more stringent tobacco regulations, manufacturers are looking to release alternative products, such as pellets. Recently we wrote about E-cigarettes, a product that enables inhalation of nicotine without tar, tobacco, and carbon monoxide. Although some view E-cigarettes as a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes, others are concerned about the safety data on electronic cigarettes and some studies have pointed to harm.

Each year, cigarettes result in about 443,000 deaths and $100 billion spent in healthcare costs in the United States.

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