Healthy Living

Smoking Smarties, not so smart!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cavities used to be the worst thing too much sugar could cause, now there's a new candy danger many parents have never even heard of. Kids are smoking candy. And it's not as harmless as it may sound.

Every so often, 18-year-old Jeremy Froncek sneaks in a smoking break.

"I smoke around the house, outside of work, the movie theater," said Froncek.

But he's not puffing cigarettes. He's smoking candy! Smarties, to be exact. It's a fad that's sweeping the country.

Children and teens grind the candy into a fine powder, then suck it through the wrapper or pouring it into their mouths, and blow out the dust. They mimic a smoker's exhale.

"Eventually, as I got better at it, you know, it was just a cool thing to do," said Froncek.

There are even dozens of videos created by children of all ages explaining how to do it.

"Before I was sent the YouTube videos, I had never heard of smoking and snorting Smarties. It's quite a phenomenon," said Peggy Sapp.

Drug-safety expert Peggy Sapp is alarmed kids are mimicking such a dangerous and illegal habit, but says kids often do what's "in" to fit in.

"Who doesn't want to be cool? To get on YouTube, and they have become instant celebrities with their peer groups," said Sapp.

What they don't realize? The risks. Dr. Mark Shikowitz treated a 9-year-old who had pieces of candy lodged in his nose.

"He told his parents that he felt his nose was burning," said Dr. Mark Shikowitz, otolaryngologist.

It eventually dissolved. Dr. Shikowitz says the fine powder candy can also be inhaled down the wrong pipe.

"That irritation can cause you to cough, can cause you to laryngospasm, which is your voice box spasming or closing," explains Dr. Shikowitz.

If the sugar sits in the lungs or in the nasal cavity for a prolonged period of time, it could cause an infection.

"Any time you have a substance such as sugar in these areas, which are moist, it creates a terrific growth medium for bacteria," said Dr. Shikowitz.

Experts also worry this trend could spark interest in real cigarettes or illegal drugs.

Jeremy says he's never felt the urge to pick up a cigarette and says he just puffs candy to pass some time.

"I do it when I am just hanging out with friends, just to show them. It is kind of like a party trick," said Froncek.

The company that manufactures Smarties calls teens who pulverize and smoke the candy "misguided." They regret the negative message associated with their product. The company also says they're hoping this inappropriate practice will disappear.


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