Alcohol and Tobacco


Alcohol is found in more than just beer and cocktails, and it can be hazardous to children — depending on the type and amount ingested.

Ethyl alcohol is found in aftershave, cologne, perfume, mouthwash (as much as 20 percent), and food extracts (vanilla extract can contain up to 70 percent), in addition to alcoholic beverages.

Depending on the amount ingested, symptoms in young children can range from nausea, vomiting and dizziness to a life-threatening drop in blood sugar levels (also known as hypoglycemia).

If ingestion of alcohol is suspected, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or call your physician immediately.

Tips to prevent childhood exposure to alcohol

  • Keep products containing alcohol out of the reach of small children.
  • Empy all glasses that contained alcoholic beverages before going to sleep. Your child may wake up before you, wander downstairs and drink your leftovers.
  • Unless your dentist recommends otherwise, switch to a non-alcoholic mouthwash. Mouthwash attracts children because of its bright color and sweet minty taste.
  • Perfume contains an even higher concentration of alcohol than mouthwash but because of its bitter taste it is usually not ingested in dangerous amounts.
  • Do not buy rubbing alcohol with “oil of wintergreen” as an ingredient. The oil of wintergreen not only gives the alcohol its green color, but also masks the smell with an attractive wintergreen aroma — much like candy. All preparations of rubbing alcohol are dangerous, but clear rubbing alcohol is the safer alternative. The green preparation is much more attractive to children and much more toxic if swallowed.


Tobacco products contain nicotine, which can be poisonous to children. Small amounts can cause an upset stomach and vomiting. Larger quantities can result in more serious effects, such as seizures.

If you suspect your child has ingested any tobacco products, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or call your physician.

Tips to preventing childhood exposure to tobacco

  • Keep tobacco products out of the reach of children.
  • As with alcoholic beverages, dispose of used tobacco products before going to bed.
  • Try not to use tobacco products around children. Children may try to imitate you and therefore will be attracted to the product.

Next Steps
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