Over at ep-ology is a posting of some new research re the candy-tobacco issue. It’s called Demonstrating that children believe that deadly tobacco products are harmless candy, an experimental study.
There has recently been an explosion of organized concern about the risk of accidental poisoning of children who mistake dissolvable smokeless tobacco products for candy. It is already known that that young children may be at risk of ingesting small objects that come within their grasp. However, since tobacco is completely unlike any other consumer product, previous research on other products cannot be considered informative. The nicotine lozenge variants of dissolvable tobacco products have already been implicated in a significant number of toxicant exposure events, which suggests that there is risk that one of the tobacco company products might someday poison someone also.
Several previous studies demonstrate that there is a view that the public health community should encourage worry about the poisoning risk:
An anti-tobacco QUANGO of the Virginia state government calling itself “Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth” issued a press release  reporting that when teens were presented with dissolvable tobacco products without any context, they often thought they were mints or candies. While it might be considered a minor limitation of the study that the methods and actual results of the study were never reported or that the research was designed and conducted by high school students without any apparent supervision by scientists, the subsequent wide coverage in the popular press confirms that it was credible, important, high-quality research.
We’ve been writing off and on about this for years (see Like candy to children and Iowa more worried about candy than cigarettes but take the time and check this latest one out. At least a couple of laughs guaranteed.
Common sense would indicate children more likely to think a mint or cherry-mint flavoured Nicorette lozenge or gum, which looks identical to candy, would be more likely to be taken as candy than would be something looking like a teabag pouch, which would not look like candy. So why not go after GSK and J&J rather than beating up on snus. Plus the Nicorettes are not age restricted where-as snus is and thus less likely to fall into childrens’ hands.
Some children will try anything, often trying to fill a void they can’t define or even recognize.
If you can not identify a product, then it is common sense that you will rely on previous experience to identify the product you had previously tried and most kids experience candy.