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Wichita school issues warning after fifth-graders caught inhaling candies

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at 4:29 p.m.

Officials at one Wichita elementary school are warning students and parents about the dangers of an unusual new trend: snorting or inhaling Smarties candies.

The principal of Enterprise Elementary School in south Wichita reported to police on Friday that several fifth-graders had been crushing Smarties candy into powder, inhaling it into their mouths and exhaling it through their noses, according to a police report.

The practice is part of a nationwide trend involving the popular, pill-shaped candies that come in cellophane wrappers. Numerous YouTube videos show students, sometimes in classrooms, crushing up the candy, arranging it in a line and then sniffing it. Some call it a “sugar rush.”

Keli Gustafston, principal at Enterprise, would not comment on the incident.

District spokeswoman Susan Arensman said it was “an isolated case” that involved 12 of 16 students in one fifth-grade class. Gustafson called the parents of the students involved to a mandatory meeting at the school, she said.

“This was obviously a serious situation … not only just because of the inhaling but because of what it could do to their health,” Arensman said.

Doctors say snorting or inhaling any substance can cause infections of the sinus or nasal passages. The powder also can get into the lungs, leading to an asthma attack or long-term breathing problems.

Arensman said the students “faced disciplinary action.” She would not say what the punishment was, citing student privacy concerns.

In coming days, the school plans to invite counselors, police officers or others from outside agencies to talk to students about the dangers of inhalants and the importance of speaking up, Arensman said.

“Even though it was not a drug, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be harmful to you,” she said. “We want to take it very seriously for the safety of our students.”

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @suzannetobias.

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