Seven young Florida children were rushed to a hospital earlier this month after swallowing nicotine lozenges. One child brought the 4 mg mint-flavored Nicorette mini lozenges to school and offered them to classmates.
“We thought it was candy,” nine-year-old Jaheim Moore said.
They played a game of who could eat the most, according to CBS Miami. “My stomach started hurting, I was shaking, and then I threw up,” Jaheim Moore told CBS. Doctors at Broward Health said the kids, ages 9-12, had rapid heart beats and low blood pressure. The symptoms are exactly those of a nicotine overdose.
Jaheim Moore’s father told the TV station that the child who had passed the candy out said that he bought the lozenges himself. “He bought it from a store and I don’t see why the store sold him that nicotine medicine,” Edward Moore told CNN.
It’s illegal to sell nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products like lozenges to minors without a prescription, but many stores have them displayed near the candy at checkout impulse counters.
While the public health world works itself into a frenzy over teenage vaping, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products remain easily available, and may create as much or more risk for young children. In fact, before the advent of e-cigarettes, NRT poisoning was a concern among medical and tobacco control organizations.
Large quantities of nicotine gum or lozenges could be swallowed by a young child much more easily and quickly than a dangerous amount of e-liquid or DIY nicotine could be swallowed and absorbed. Fruity e-liquid may smell delicious, but a few drops in the mouth will probably convince you that drinking enough to cause harm would not be an easy task. But nicotine lozenges are made to be palatable.
“They’re sweet like candy, and you can use them when you need them, so it can be easy to take more than you need or more than is recommended in a 24-hour period,” says a medical advice site. They would probably cause vomiting — like drinking nicotine does — but they’re still dangerous if a large quantity is swallowed.
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