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Nicotine can be harmful to children when eaten or to teens and adults when smoked:

  • 25 percent of nicotine remains in a cigarette butt after smoking
  • Ingesting more than one full cigarette or three butts can be dangerous to a child. Other sources of nicotine poisoning include drinking from a "spit cup", swallowing a "chaw", chewing or swallowing nicotine gum, using patches, nasal spray and cigars.

Symptoms of nicotine toxicity include:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Headache
  • Drooling
  • Sweating
  • Confusion/agitation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures

Symptoms can occur quickly and may last for several hours. If your child has an exposure to any source of nicotine, call NC Poison Control.

Smoking has been associated with various cancers, chronic lung disease, heart disease, and stroke. Second-hand smoke inhaled by children has been linked to an increase in childhood asthma. For more information on smoking visit the American Lung Association's website.


Call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site for questions about an exposure or for more information.

Last Updated on 12/17/2019