[Accidental ingestion of cigarettes by children]

Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 1998 Nov 21;142(47):2569-71.
[Article in Dutch]


Accidental ingestion of cigarettes (and butts) is mainly seen in young children. Nicotine in tobacco products is easily absorbed by the oral mucosa and intestines; absorption depends on nicotine content and pH of tobacco. Symptoms are caused by the nicotine component and usually develop rapidly (< 4 hours). The most common symptom is vomiting. Although cigarettes are potentially toxic, their ingestion by children is generally benign. Decontamination of the mouth with water may be useful. Induction of emesis is not advised. Gastric lavage is not needed in asymptomatic patients (with an unreliable history) or after vomiting. Children who ingested cigarettes should receive medical observation for four hours after ingestion. Children with significant symptoms should be admitted and eventually treated by supportive care. In symptomatic children or children with a reliable history of ingestion of large quantities who have not vomited gastric lavage with administration of activated charcoal has to be performed. When after vomiting other symptoms persist activated charcoal can be given via a nasogastric tube.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eating
  • Emergency Treatment / standards*
  • Female
  • Gastric Lavage
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nicotiana / poisoning*
  • Nicotine / pharmacokinetics
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Poisoning / therapy*
  • Vomiting / etiology


  • Nicotine