Doctors are warning kids across the country to stop "smoking Smarties" -- a fad they say can lead to infections, chronic coughing, choking and even maggots feeding off sugary dust in your nose.
Adolescents and teens have been crushing and inhaling candy, and then exhaling it, in an effort to look as though they’re smoking cigarettes, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Countless youths have even posted how-to videos, like this one on YouTube, of themselves engaging in this behavior.
Health experts fear the behavior may lead to harmful conditions. Some kids have already shown signs of developing a “smoker’s cough.” Oren Friedman, a Mayo Clinic nose specialist, cautioned that frequent use could lead to infections or even worse, albeit rare, conditions, such as maggots inside the nose.
The trend came as a surprise to officials at Summit Middle School in Frisco, Colo., in the fall when a clique of sixth graders started “smoking” Smarties -- a popular, disk-shaped sugar candy.
Though they call it “smoking,” the kids aren’t actually lighting a match to the candy. Instead, they crush it into a fine powder in its wrapper, draw it into their mouths and then blow it out in a cloud of dust.
The fad worries Corinne McGrew, the school nurse at Summit School District. "My biggest concern was that they would aspirate the wrapper or a whole Smarties and it would be a choking hazard," she told the Wall Street Journal.
The problem is happening all over the country — and Smarties isn’t the only candy of concern, said Eric Ostrow, vice president of sales and marketing at Ce De Candy Inc., which manufactures Smarties in Union, N.J.
“It can be done with anything made with sugar and compressed — Necco Wafers, Conversation Hearts, SweeTarts, Lik-M-Aid is already pulverized and so is Pixy Styx,” Ostrow told the Journal. “I don’t want to be complimented that we’re the number one choice.”