Tuesday, May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, a day to consider the dangers of tobacco products and an opportunity to share with Kansans that the tobacco industry has introduced a new product that comes with some of the same health risks as other tobacco products. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) wants Kansans to know that the state is currently a test market for tobacco sticks and the potential dangers of this new product.

The tobacco sticks, sold under the popular brands Marlboro and Skoal, are sold in matchbook-size packages and look like chocolate-covered toothpicks. According to one tester, the products not only look like candy, they also taste like candy. The tobacco sticks have been seen at convenience stores across the state. Kansas is one of only three states where tobacco sticks are currently being test marketed.

“As the state’s health agency, KDHE is particularly concerned about the potential appeal of these new tobacco sticks to youth,” KDHE Secretary Dr. Robert Moser said. “The packages are so small that they could easily be concealed in a shirt or pants pocket and youth could use tobacco sticks in front of parents or teachers while appearing to have a simple toothpick in their mouth. We are also concerned about the risk of young children accidentally ingesting these products.”

The possibility that adults will carry the small packages in their pockets or leave them in other unsecured places means that young children may have easy access to tobacco sticks. As with any tobacco product, there is a risk that a young child may ingest a lethal amount of nicotine. The estimated minimal lethal pediatric dose is 1 mg of nicotine per 2.2 pounds of body weight. Ingestion of as little as 1 mg of nicotine by a small child can produce symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. While the nicotine content of Marlboro and Skoal tobacco sticks has not been tested, a study in Pediatrics found that a similar product Camel Sticks had 3.1 mg of nicotine per stick.

Each year the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce consumption. According to WHO, tobacco use is the second cause of death globally (after hypertension) and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide.

When Kansans are ready to quit tobacco use, the Kansas Tobacco will provide support and work with the caller to develop a plan to quit. Counselors will provide information and guidance during one-on-one telephone sessions. Kansans can call the Quitline anytime day or night to start the process. Once enrolled in the free service, callers will work with a counselor who will set up sessions that fit the caller’s schedule.

During these sessions, callers will discuss the reasons they want to quit and find ways to handle any barriers. Studies have found that using a tobacco Quitline can more than double a person’s chances of successfully quitting tobacco.