The article Unintentional Child Poisonings Through Ingestion of Conventional and Novel Tobacco Products from Pediatrics (article here) will most likely be discussed again in this venue but the quick point to be made here is that it is being inappropriately used as fodder in the anti-flavouring assault on tobacco products.
Of course, I am in full agreement that no tobacco products should be marketed to children. However, I support flavouring smokeless tobacco products in that it just might make them more attractive to smokers who otherwise might have a difficult time switching over.
What this report actually shows is that under the age of six, children overwhelmingly prefer ingesting cigarettes and cigars to smokeless tobacco. Part of this is no doubt due to the greater preponderance of traditional tobacco but consider for a moment what it is saying -children eat cigarettes.
The argument against flavoured tobacco is that it targets the young, as if adults to not enjoy flavours. I worry the day will come when these anti-flavour crusaders turn their gimlet eyes onto alcohol products and I am no longer able to enjoy a fruit margarita because it is child-friendly.
But when was the last time you heard of an adult eating a cigarette, or a worm or some dirt?
Kids will eat anything out of curiosity or for a dare. They also tend to grow out of that. At some point, they join with adults and not only start enjoying things that would have been revolting to them earlier (such as scotch) but also restrict themselves to things that taste what we think of as good.
We leave sweet liquors on the market because we know that children do not have legal access to them. Activists seem to forget that children are not allowed to purchase tobacco products. They are for adults, and as legal products, deserve to be enhanced for adults’ pleasure. To compete for the nicotine market in the hopes of persuading adult consumers to a safer pastime, smokeless tobacco and any safer forms of obtaining nicotine, should be made as attractive as possible.
The world is full of products that children do not have legal access to, and that barrier allows us to make them more pleasurable for adult consumption. There will always be some bleeding over that barrier, but that does not justify diminishing the welfare of the majority.
(Pediatrics is a journal that has few scruples when it comes to publishing nonsense (in this case, the nonsense occurred more in how the article propagated such as in its re-reporting with the misleading headline Tobacco ‘mints’ tied to kids’ poisoning: Smokeless products 2nd most common source of accidents at MSNBC (link); lest we forget this journal was the source of the third hand smoke myth).