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March: Poison Prevention Week

Sample News Release


Ingestion of Cigarettes Among Children Has Toxic Effects

In recognition of National Poison Prevention Week, March 15–21, the (name of organization) is alerting the public about ways to prevent childhood poisoning. Cigarettes and cigarette butts may poison children who ingest them.

In 2012, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) received more than 7,308 reports of potentially toxic exposures to tobacco products among children in the United States aged 5 years or younger. Most cases of these cases result from children eating cigarettes or chewing tobacco.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Rhode Island Department of Health, children in households where cigarettes are smoked in their presence were four times more likely to ingest cigarettes or cigarette butts than in households where smoking does not occur around children. Most ingestions happen in homes where children are exposed to secondhand smoke and where cigarettes and ashtrays are kept within the reach of children.

Adults who smoke in the home may not be aware of the danger of cigarettes and cigarette butts to children,” said (spokesperson’s name). “Children aged 6- to 24-months old are actively exploring their environment and often put things into their mouths. It is very important that parents and caregivers store tobacco products out of the reach of children always and that they do not smoke around children because of the associated health hazards," said (another spokesperson’s name).

While minor toxic clinical effects may occur, such as vomiting, nausea, lethargy, gagging, and a pale or flushed appearance, severe toxicity among children who ingested cigarettes, cigarette butts, or snuff, include depressed respiration, cardiac arrhythmia, and convulsions. If ingestion does occur, a poison-control center should be consulted to assess the risks for serious toxicity and determine treatment.

In addition to preventing nicotine poisonings, avoiding the use of tobacco products in the presence of children should:

  • Decrease the risk for lower respiratory and middle ear infections in children
  • Decrease the risk that children will smoke in the future
  • Decrease children's access to lighted cigarettes, matches, and cigarette lighters, thereby reducing fires started by children—a leading cause of fire-related deaths among children younger than 5 years of age

Parents and guardians who want to quit should seek health care advice or can call (phone number) for smoking cessation information and referrals.


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