Not so dandy candy

As a parent of a 3-year-old who is much more interested in “treats” than dinner, I know that anything that looks like candy within my daughter’s reach is likely to end up in her mouth. That’s bad for many reasons, but a piece by my colleague Sandy Bauers in the Health & Science section on Monday, May 3 raises another issue I didn’t realize existed.

A study found that in a two year period, 13,705 were poisoned by eating tobacco products. Many by candy look-a-likes made for smokers who need nicotine when lighting up is impossible.

Here is Sandy’s short item on a study published in Pediatrics:

Candy is dandy, especially in the mind of a young child.

But recent research has prompted concern about candy look-alikes that contain nicotine. These products are not designed to help people quit the habit, but for tiding them over when smoking is not allowed.

Some tobacco pellets look like Tic Tacs or M&Ms. They’re often flavored, and contain nearly enough nicotine to induce nausea and vomiting in a young child.

The study, led by Hillel R. Alpert at the Harvard School of Public Health and published in the May issue of Pediatrics, may add an extra dimension to the debate over taxing tobacco products. Both Philadelphia and Pennsylvania have such proposals.

The study of 13,705 children who were accidentally poisoned during a two-year period after eating tobacco products found that the most common item ingested was cigarettes and filter tips. Next was smokeless tobacco products — which included the candies.

More than 70 percent of the ingestions were by children less than a year old. Clearly, not dandy at all.