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Nicotine and tobacco poisoning of children and adolescents is becoming more and more common

Aromatic beads for cigarettes, sachets of tobacco, nicotine.

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Nicotine and tobacco poisoning of children and adolescents is becoming more and more common

Aromatic beads for cigarettes, sachets of tobacco, nicotine... These products are causing more and more poisoning, mainly among children and adolescents, warns the National Agency for Food Safety and Health. environment and work (ANSES), in a toxicovigilance report published this Thursday, November 30, calling for “particular vigilance” on nicotine sachets.

Not only does the offer of tobacco products, related products - without tobacco but with nicotine - or flavorings for tobacco products "continue to diversify", but "older, even prohibited, products are also consumed : chewing tobacco and snus (tobacco in sachets for oral use),” specifies the health agency.

A review of calls to poison control centers between the beginning of 2017 and the end of 2022 for these five products showed that the number of calls “has continued to increase since 2020” for nicotine sachets, snus and aromatic beads, according to Anses. “Children and adolescents are the main victims,” she notes.

For nicotine or snus sachets, poisonings, sometimes with severe syndromes (prolonged vomiting with risk of dehydration, convulsions in particular), mainly concern 12-17 year olds, after “intentional” consumption. Recently appearing, tobacco-free nicotine sachets contain, in a permeable fabric, polymer fibers impregnated with nicotine and slip between the lip and the gum. Despite a similar presentation, they differ from snus, banned in Europe, except Sweden.

Given a number of cases “probably underestimated” and “significant advertising on social networks targeting young people”, ANSES considered it “urgent to raise awareness among the educational community, health professionals and those around young people of the risks » immediate, but also nicotine dependence. Calling for “vigilance” on nicotine sachets “made very attractive for young people”, the coordinator of the study, Cécilia Solal, urged “a regulatory framework for these products”, until then without “clear status” nor “no control”.

Children have also been poisoned - generally not seriously but around ten ended up in hospital - after accidental ingestion of chewing or heating tobacco. ANSES also reports “a new source of domestic accidents with aromatic beads” to be inserted in the cigarette filter, born from a diversion of the ban on aromas for cigarettes or hand-rolling tobacco.

From three in 2020, calls to Poison Control Centers concerning these products increased to 86 in 2022, in three quarters of cases for children under three years old. It was “always accidental ingestions”, also involving adults who mistook these beads for candy or sucked in a poorly inserted ball. As “the packaging of these products includes fruit designs in bright colors and is not equipped with a safety closure”, ANSES calls for a less attractive presentation.

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