Sunday, March 22, 2009

Children 'Smoke' Smarties

From Dionne Searcey at the Wall Street Journal:
Summit Middle School in Frisco, Colo., is a tobacco-free campus. Students who smoke cigarettes are suspended.
But when a lunchtime crew of sixth-graders last fall started "smoking" Smarties, the tart, chalky candy discs wrapped in cellophane, lunchroom monitors and the school nurse were flummoxed.
The children didn't light the candy. They crushed it into a fine powder in its wrapper, tore off one end, poured the powder into their mouths and blew out fine Smarties dust, mimicking a smoker's exhale.
"It was freaky," says Corinne McGrew, a nurse for Summit School District. "My biggest concern was that they would aspirate the wrapper or a whole Smarties and it would be a choking hazard."
The fad at Summit Middle School died down after a few days and some harsh words from the lunchroom staff. But at other schools and across the Internet, "smoking Smarties," as the activity has been labeled, is gaining popularity. Some children have even taken to snorting it, all to the horror of parents, teachers and the 60-year-old company that manufactures the candy.
Jeremy Froncek, 18, says smoking Smarties is a 'cultural phenomenon' and he likes it because 'it looks like you're smoking something but you're not.'
Through the years, other candies have endured misuse, such as a craze that began by mixing Mentos with Diet Coke to cause a frothy eruption. But few have involved such obvious mimicry of lethal adult vices.
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. Children don't inhale the powder or try to get it into their lungs; they pour it into their mouths and exhale quickly, causing a cloud of fine dust to emerge.

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