Policy

Crack (Candy) Babies

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Bad Candy Ruins Children

A Wall Street Journal article from late March is slowly making the rounds. The hip thing for little whippersnappers to do, apparently, is crush up Smarties into a fine powder, take a big hit, then exhale what looks like smoke. Let the countdown begin.

Salvia divinorum put state legislators into a panic. When will they discover the next dangerous menace (thanks YouTube!) and pass frenzied legislation outlawing the sale, possession, and ingestion of candy?

The "alarming trend" follows in the grand tradition of glue, N2O cartridges, and Snoop Dogg-approved Pot Suckers as the next, cool way to get high be silly and scare the crap out of adults.

As kids in elementary school, my friends and I used to take the powdered candy that came in fruit-shaped containers and do lines off the cafeteria tables. This new menace to childhood, however, has become a cause for concern thanks to the Internet:

The phenomenon of smoking Smarties–a candy that has been around for six decades and is different from the candy-coated chocolates of the same name popular in the U.K.–has led to dozens of how-to videos on video-sharing Web sites.

Some of the children attempting the feat are caught on camera hacking in a spew reminiscent of a smoker's cough. Others have perfected the art of blowing Smarties smoke rings; some can even exhale through their nose.

Predictably, Smarties are already being set up as a gateway drug candy by drug safety experts and doctors are–understandably–saying the activity could cause nose and throat irritation. So far, though, only one incident is being touted as an example of don't-let-this-happen-to-you-junior:

Last month, Mark Shikowitz, an ear, nose and throat doctor at Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, N.Y., treated a boy about 9 years old who complained his nose was burning because of a Smarties incident. (His parents brought in a Smarties wrapper but weren't sure how he'd ingested them.) Dr. Shikowitz determined that part of a Smarties must have lodged in the boy's nose until it dissolved. The child wasn't harmed.

In order to give the health risks a better kick, however, the WSJ does manage to mention another possible side effect: sugar-hungry maggots feasting on the nasal cavity.

It should be interesting to see how the Smarties epidemic pans out. One middle school principal in Wisconsin didn't seem worried: kids have imitated adults in innocent ways for years. One Alabama principal, however, has declared smoking Smarties a "Class II offence," punishable by…detention.

Senior Editor Jacob Sullum has the Salvia hysteria covered here, here, here , here aaannnnd here. Reason covered Pot Suckers, too. And don't forget to check out the adult version of smoking Smarties: candy-flavored meth. Reason's drug stash here.

Below, "Smartface" fmsmonkey schools all the squares out there on how to look cool:

High Five: Boing Boing