Summit school makes national news for Smarties-smoking story | AspenTimes.com
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Summit school makes national news for Smarties-smoking story

Robert Allen
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. ” A Summit Middle School nurse’s October post to an online industry mailing list led to a front-page story ” about kids “smoking” the candy Smarties like cigarettes ” in the Wall Street Journal on Friday.

“It’s a bit of a fluke that we’re included in it ” in that it is not in our schools,” Summit School District spokeswoman Julie McCluskie said on Friday.

The nurse, Corinne McGrew, had been using the electronic e-mail list to find whether dangers exist for the students smashing rolls of Smarties and puffing the powder like tobacco smoke.

A few sixth-grade students were observed “smoking Smarties” in an isolated October incident. They “were crushing the candy up inside the wrapper, cutting off one end of the plastic, and inhaling/exhaling the powder,” according to a school district press release.

SMS principal Iva Katz-Hesse said students caught trying to smoke Smarties will receive counseling.

“It’s very different from cigarettes,” she said, adding that tobacco results in confiscation and disciplinary action.

The candy offers no drug-induced high but carries a variety of risks. Frequent use can lead to infections ” or maggots feeding on the sugary dust in the nose, according to the WSJ article.

The article quotes young students who say they smoke Smarties because it looks like they’re smoking tobacco or drugs ” and also for the shock value.

Summit superintendent Millie Hamner said a letter may be sent to parents making them aware of what may or may not be an issue.

“I’d never heard about it until this article,” she said. “That to me says that this has not been an issue.”

She also said the situation is reminiscent of a novelty candy that has long been absent from most candy-store shelves.

“When we talked about this we thought about ” when some of us were young ” there were candy cigarettes, and we’d pretend to be adults,” Hamner said. “So I think it’s that same kind of behavior.”

In an article in Business Insider, the impact of kids “smoking” Smarties is tough to discern. At $10.54 million, sales were up from $10.46 million in 2007. But “the overall novelty, non-chocolate candy category” was down 11 percent “year over year.”

Ce De Candy owns the Smarties brand. The smoking ” clearly not an intended use ” doesn’t look like it will be on any company advertising any time soon.

“It’s certainly not endorsed by us. We don’t endorse smoking. But we can’t control what people do out there,” Eric Ostrow, vice president for sales and marketing for the company, told Business Insider.

Hamner said it’s nice to have national publicity, but there are many more interesting ” and positive ” activities at the local middle school.

“We love to be on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, but we would love for the article to be portraying all the outstanding things going on in our middle school,” Hamner said.

rallen@summitdaily.com


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