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Smoking Smarties
They were a treat when I was a kid. On road trips to see Granny we’d stop at gas stations and buy little rolls of Smarties candy to dissolve in our mouths and help pass the time. And of course, my siblings and I were always excited to find them in our Trick-or-Treat bags.

But that was yesterday—when life seemed a lot more innocent than it does today. Some of today’s kids aren’t simply eating the disk-shaped sugar candy—they’re smoking them. Yes, smoking them. But instead of lighting-up, the candies are crushed to a fine powder, one end of the plastic wrapper is torn off, and kids pour or suck the dust into their mouths. Then they blow out, making a cloud of dust that looks like smoke. Supposedly, this is “cool.”

But the faux smoking is greatly concerning the medical profession. In fact, doctors across the country are warning kids to stop smoking Smarties. Mayo Clinic nose specialist Oren Friedman says that the fascination could lead to infections, a chronic cough (some users are already showing signs of developing “smokers cough”), chocking and even maggots feeding on the candy dust left in noses.1 Connie McGrew, a Colorado school nurse told the Wall Street Journal that, “My biggest concern was that they [students] would aspirate the wrapper or a whole Smarties and it would be a choking hazard.”

"Cultural Phenomenon"

Titus Williams, a 14-year-old eighth-grader posted a step-by-step tutorial on YouTube called, “How to Smoke Smarties.” He takes the risk of actually sucking in the candy and exhaling through both his mouth and nose. He’s only one of many who have posted these “how-to” videos for beginners. Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Some students are now snorting the candy, much as a cocaine user would do, and posting demonstrations.

So the big question is: why in the world are kids doing this? For many teens, a comparison of smoking and snorting Smarties to smoking cigarettes and snorting drugs is what it’s all about. According to 18-year-old Jeremy Froncek, it’s a “cultural phenomenon.” He says he likes it because “it looks like you’re smoking something but you’re not.”

His statement leads me as a parent to ask this question: Who is setting the example for our kids? Who are they watching smoke that they admire? Us? Actors? Bands? Like never before, we parents need to have our antennas out and become aware. Aware of the example we’re setting. Aware of what our kids watch and read. Aware of whom they idolize. And aware of what they bring home. Not so we can “catch” them. But because we love them, and want them to grow into healthy adults—physically and emotionally.

Let’s work at preserving our kids’ innocence, so that when they look at a piece of candy they won’t think, “what can I do with this to be cool,” but to look at it for what it is: simply a kid’s treat.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123750945477390601.html

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