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Fill-in-Blank News Release for County Health Departments

For Release: _____, 2003
Contact: __________
_____ County Health Department
(Phone)

Ingestion of Cigarettes Among Children Has Toxic Effects

In recognition of National Poison Prevention Week, March 16-22, the __________ County Health Department is alerting the public about ways to prevent childhood poisoning. Cigarettes and cigarette butts may poison children who ingest them.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) receives almost 8,000 reports of potentially toxic exposures to tobacco products among children 6 years and younger in the United States. Most cases of nicotine poisoning among children result from their ingestion of cigarettes or cigars. 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 swallow cigarettes or cigarette butts than in households where smoking does not occur around children. Most of these incidents happened in homes where children were exposed to secondhand smoke and where cigarettes and ashtrays were 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 __________, __________ County Health Department administrative director.

“Children 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."

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, call the Oklahoma Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

In addition to preventing nicotine poisonings, avoiding the use of tobacco products in the presence of children should decrease the risk for infections from respiratory diseases in children; the risk that children will smoke in the future; and children's access to lighted cigarettes, matches, and cigarette lighters, thereby reducing fires started by children -- the leading cause of fire-related deaths among children aged less than 5 years. From 1988 to 2001, 365 Oklahomans were injured as a result of fire play, 48 percent were directly linked to playing with matches and lighters. Seventy-five percent of those injured were under the age 15 and children under age 5 accounted for 66 percent of all deaths.

Parents and guardians who smoke are strongly encouraged to quit smoking or to take extra special care to protect infants and toddlers. For tips on quitting smoking, visit this Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/how2quit.htm.

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