Unintentional Child Poisonings Through Ingestion of Conventional and Novel Tobacco Products

The article Unintentional Child Poisonings Through Ingestion of Conventional and Novel Tobacco Products from Pediatrics (article here) will most likely be discussed again in this venue but the quick point to be made here is that it is being inappropriately used as fodder in the anti-flavouring assault on tobacco products.

Of course, I am in full agreement that no tobacco products should be marketed to children. However, I support flavouring smokeless tobacco products in that it just might make them more attractive to smokers who otherwise might have a difficult time switching over.

What this report actually shows is that under the age of six, children overwhelmingly prefer ingesting cigarettes and cigars to smokeless tobacco. Part of this is no doubt due to the greater preponderance of traditional tobacco but consider for a moment what it is saying -children eat cigarettes.

The argument against flavoured tobacco is that it targets the young, as if adults to not enjoy flavours. I worry the day will come when these anti-flavour crusaders turn their gimlet eyes onto alcohol products and I am no longer able to enjoy a fruit margarita because it is child-friendly.

But when was the last time you heard of an adult eating a cigarette, or a worm or some dirt?

Kids will eat anything out of curiosity or for a dare. They also tend to grow out of that. At some point, they join with adults and not only start enjoying things that would have been revolting to them earlier (such as scotch) but also restrict themselves to things that taste what we think of as good.

We leave sweet liquors on the market because we know that children do not have legal access to them. Activists seem to forget that children are not allowed to purchase tobacco products. They are for adults, and as legal products, deserve to be enhanced for adults’ pleasure. To compete for the nicotine market in the hopes of persuading adult consumers to a safer pastime, smokeless tobacco and any safer forms of obtaining nicotine, should be made as attractive as possible.

The world is full of products that children do not have legal access to, and that barrier allows us to make them more pleasurable for adult consumption. There will always be some bleeding over that barrier, but that does not justify diminishing the welfare of the majority.

(Pediatrics is a journal that has few scruples when it comes to publishing nonsense (in this case, the nonsense occurred more in how the article propagated such as in its re-reporting with the misleading headline Tobacco ‘mints’ tied to kids’ poisoning: Smokeless products 2nd most common source of accidents at MSNBC (link); lest we forget this journal was the source of the third hand smoke myth).


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  • Michael J. McFadden  On May 16, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Your after-comment tells the tale. It’s something that is ALL too common in smoking-related reporting, or even in smoking-related research: the press-release headlines and abstracts act as antismoking blurbs while the actual stories and studies don’t actually support the claims.

    The whole Third Hand Smoke thing was a perfect example: Winickoff et al analyzed a random household OPINION SURVEY and noted that about half the people surveyed thought that it was possible that a child could be harmed in some way if they entered a room where adults had previously been smoking.

    First of all, a good proportion (perhaps ALL) of those answers were probably coming from people who were thinking about smoke still being in the air (i.e. “second hand smoke”). The whole “Third Hand Smoke” thing was just a clever headline grabber because Winni thought it was a cute idea. Secondly there was no actual research on harms or dangers being done by Winickoff.

    But the NY Times et al picked this nonsense up and reported it in ways that would make parents terrified by the idea that their children would die from radioactive poisoning if they visited Grannie’s house where Grandpa used to smoke an occasional pipe!



    and my comments down near the bottom at 1.08.09. You’ll see that it would take an infant 2.74 *TRILLION* years of assiduous daily floor licking to get the dose that the Times frightened parents with.

    I believe strongly that the press releases and headlines for these abominations are deliberately designed with the concept in mind that many people read no further than the headline and first few sentences of an article and that THAT is what sticks in the public mind. It’s nothing less than deliberate propaganda, aided and abetted by a willing media that wants to be seen as “socially responsible” in printing uniformly negative stories about smoking.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

  • Paul  On May 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks Michael,

    Always a pleasure to get your comments.


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