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March 22/29, 2000

Risk of Tobacco Sickness

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JAMA. 2000;283(12):1557. doi:10.1001/jama.283.12.1557-JQU00001-3-1

The consolidation of family tobacco farms into large, commercial operations appears to be increasing migrant and seasonal farm workers' risk of contracting green tobacco sickness.

In the February issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine reported on 144 Hispanic migrant workers involved in tobacco production in North Carolina. They found that 41% of the workers had green tobacco sickness at least once during the summer production season. The illness typically occurs after exposure to tobacco leaves that are wet from rain or morning dew. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headache from transdermal absorption of nicotine.

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