When I first started in tobacco prevention in 2011 there was the normal mix of tobacco products that you either smoked, spit, or swallowed the juices to get the nicotine. Dissolvable tobacco products, like orbs, strips and sticks, came on the market and were going to help people use nicotine without smoking or spitting like other smokeless products but were a bust. Hookah use among high school students in Florida became the rage for awhile and increased between 2012 – 2016, but since then numbers have fallen 26.2% between 2017 – 2018 for those who have tried it and 21.1% for those who currently use it. Electronic vaping has taken off in our state by 361.4% between 2012-2018 for those who have tried it and 582.6% for those who currently vape. Now an alternative nicotine product is on the market with no smoke, vapor or smell and could be hooking our kids. It can be used in plain sight of teachers, and parents need to be aware of it….nicotine toothpicks.
These normal looking toothpicks are “infused with nicotine and flavoring agents.” There are many different brands, but all the brands we looked at had 3.0 mg of nicotine per toothpick which claim to give you as much nicotine as a cigarette which only has 1.5mg. These toothpicks are strong.
One former smoker who tried the Pixotine brand, said he “found it shockingly strong, with the same chest and throat burn you’d get from a couple packets of snus or a few Marlboro reds.” He said it produced a strong buzz and he ended up with a stomach ache. After using several of them he felt nauseous and his heart was pounding.
Most brands like NicoPix, ZipPik, and Pixotine offer cinnamon and mint flavors, but coffee, tobacco, spice and melon flavors are also available depending on the brand. We wouldn’t be surprised if more flavors are offered in the future. They are easy to purchase online with Esty, eBay, vapor stores, retailers and the manufacturer offering them for sale. And while the sites ask if you are over 18, there is no way to prove it. The lowest price we saw was $5.00 for 20 toothpicks, but some brands offer multi-packs that will bring down the price.
The brain isn’t fully developed until the mid-20s and nicotine can have more harmful effects on a developing brain versus that of an adult. Nicotine addiction is also one of the hardest addictions to beat. School districts may not even know about this product, and many district policies only cover tobacco products and vaping devices and liquids. No matter how nicotine is ingested, it is a dangerous and addictive substance.