Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

March: Poison Prevention Week

Sample News Release


Exposure to Tobacco Products by Children Has Toxic Effects

In recognition of National Poison Prevention Week, March 20–26, the (name of organization) is alerting the public about ways to prevent childhood poisoning. Cigarettes, cigarette butts, and other tobacco products may harm children.

"Adults who use tobacco products may not know the danger that tobacco products in the home present to their children," said (spokesperson's name). "Children 6 to 24 months old are actively exploring their environment and often put things into their mouths. Parents and caregivers should always store tobacco products out of the reach of children. They should also never smoke around children because of the associated health hazards," said (another spokesperson's name).

In 2014, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) received more than 10,000 reports of potentially toxic exposures to tobacco products among children five or younger in the United States. Most of these reports resulted from children eating cigarettes or chewing tobacco. More than 2,000 reports related to children being exposed to electronic nicotine delivery systems, such as e-cigarettes, or the liquids used in these products.

Among children who ingest cigarettes, cigarette butts, or smokeless tobacco, minor toxic clinical effects could include vomiting, nausea, lethargy, gagging, and a pale or flushed appearance may occur. In addition, major toxic effects among children could include confusion, an irregular heart rate, and convulsions. If a child does swallow a tobacco product, parents or caregivers should call a poison-control center (PCC). PCCs can be reached around the clock by calling 1-800-222-1222 from anywhere in the USA.

The AAPCC also warns that the potentially large amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes and refills could lead to toxicity in both adults and children, if inhaled, swallowed, or spilled on the skin. It's also important to be aware that flavorings such as fruit, mint, and chocolate, which are often added to these products, make them attractive to children.

In addition to preventing nicotine poisonings, avoiding the use of tobacco products in the presence of children decreases children's risk for lower respiratory and middle ear infections in the short term. It also decreases their access to lighted cigarettes, matches, and cigarette lighters. This can reduce fires started by children—a leading cause of fire-related deaths among children younger than five. Just as important, avoiding the use of tobacco products in the presence of children decreases the risk that they will smoke in the future.

Parents and guardians who want to quit should seek health care advice or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free smoking cessation information and referrals.