Tobacco and Nicotine are Poisons no Matter How You’re Exposed

Nicotine, the addictive ingredient in tobacco, is not safe – whether it is eaten, touched or inhaled. Symptoms of mild nicotine poisoning include stomach problems like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe cases can include dizziness, sweating, headache, hyperactivity or restlessness.  Changes  in blood pressure and heart rate can occur, followed by difficulty breathing. In rare cases, nicotine poisoning can result in seizures, coma, and even death. Children are especially at risk for this poisoning due to their small size; even a small amount can be dangerous.

How children are exposed to nicotine


Tobacco and nicotine are harmful if swallowed. Even a small amount can cause problems, even if a child splits it out without swallowing. Children have been known to:

  • Eat Whole cigarettes, cigars or butts
  • Liquid nicotine from a cartridge or e-cigarette
  • Chewing and swallowing smokeless tobacco or drinking from “spit cups”
  • Nicotine gums, mints and even patches are attractive items to chew or suck on


When tobacco or nicotine touches the skin, it is quickly absorbed into the blood stream. Touching tobacco can be just as dangerous as eating or drinking it. Examples of tobacco and nicotine products children often touch or play with include:

  • E-cigarettes and cartridges, which may leak or break
  • E-cigarette refill bottles, which are not child-resistant
  • Snuff, other smokeless tobacco and split cups
  • Cigarettes and unwrapped cigars
  • Nicotine patches


Exposure to tobacco smoke, either by smoking or second-hand smoke, increases the risk for asthma in children. Later in life, it can lead to heart disease, lung cancer and other lunch diseases, and nasal polyps. Secondhand smoke has also been shown to increase the risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID).  Electronic cigarettes may or may not contain nicotine. They use a water or chemical solution to create a vapor or mist that mimics cigarette smoke. These products are new enough that research is still needed to determine the long-term effects of using one or being exposed its vapor.

Keep kids safe from tobacco

Always store all tobacco products up and out of sight and reach of children. This includes all parts of an e-cigarette, especially the refill bottle or cartridges.

Make sure ashtrays and spit cups are emptied and cleaned, especially before going to bed each night.

Use special caution when visiting someone who uses tobacco products if your child is not normally around them.

Try not to use tobacco products in front of small children. They learn by imitating adults and are more likely to touch or taste products if they see you using them.

Call us immediately if your child experiences an accidental exposure to tobacco or nicotine at 1-800-222-1222.