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HB170 • Utah public health officials anticipate more childhood poisonings if flavored tobacco products that look like mints and candy are sold in Utah.
They aren't in Utah yet tobacco companies are testing them in other markets and they may never be on the market here. Lawmakers will consider a ban of "flavored tobacco products" other than cigarettes and cigars. HB170 hasn't been assigned to a committee.
In a news conference Thursday meant to alert adults to the danger of tobacco products, Dr. Charles Pruitt, in charge of Primary Children Medical Center's emergency department, said they should be banned.
"They're frankly too dangerous. They draw children's attention too much. They look too much like candy."
The Utah Poison Control Center already receives calls about children ingesting flavored snuff, which is currently sold in Utah, along with swallowed cigarettes and cigarette butts.
The new dissolvable products are of "great concern," said Barbara Insley Crouch, the center's director. Their flavors and packaging appeal to children, and they're likely to be more toxic than cigarettes because the nicotine is meant to be absorbed more efficiently, she said.
"We're likely to see an increase in poisonings from them."
She anticipates that two or three of the dissolvable mint-like products would be as toxic to a 1-year-old as ingesting one cigarette. Effects can range from vomiting and agitation to seizures and comas, even death.
The Utah Department of Health has launched a web site to educate adults about the dangers of tobacco products at http://www.streesmartutah.org